5th Degamo slay suspect recants statement – lawyer

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — Another suspect in the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo has retracted his statement, his lawyer revealed on Friday.

Danny Villanueva, legal counsel of Joven Javier, said his client withdrew his testimony because he was forced to confess by authorities.

"Binabawi ni Ginoong Javier ‘yung ginawa niyang pag-amin na siya ay kasama sa dalawang beses na pagtatangka sa buhay ni Gobernador Degamo as early as 2022 at ang naging bahagi niya raw sa Pamplona massacre," Villanueva told reporters.

[Translation: Mr. Javier is retracting his confession that he was involved in two attempts on the life of Governor Degamo as early as 2022 and that he was part of the Pamplona massacre.]

Javier is also taking back his statement implicating suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves and Marvin Miranda — both tagged as masterminds of the murder.

"Yun ay pinapasinungalingan ni Mr. Javier sapagkat yun ay nakuha rin sa ilalim ng pananakit at pananakot sa kanya at sa kanyang kagustuhan na mawala ang panganib sa buhay niya at ng kanyang pamilya," the lawyer added.

[That is being denied by Mr. Javier because that was also obtained under pain and threats against him, and his desire to eliminate the danger to his life and his family.]

Villanueva claimed that the members of the Philippine Army and Negros Oriental police tortured Javier to make him admit his involvement in Degamo's killing.

After the retraction, Villanueva said they filed a petition for habeas corpus before the Manila Regional Trial Court for Javier's release.

Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Fadullon said the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not yet received a copy of the recent recantation.

"It seems the lawyer is more keen on going to the media instead of just going through the motion of filing the supposed pleadings directly with the offices concerned," he said.

Although Villanueva insisted there's no legal basis for the National Bureau of Investigation to still hold Javier, Fadullon said he is being detained by reason of the charges in court.

Javier is the fifth among the eight suspects arrested for the murder of Degamo to withdraw their previous statements.

READ: 3 more Degamo slay suspects recant, lawyer says

On Thursday, DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said it's possible the Teves camp is behind the suspects' recantation.

READ: Teves camp possibly behind suspects' recantation – DOJ spokesman