Authorities raid properties owned by family of Rep. Teves, alleged mastermind of Degamo slay

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 10) — Authorities raided four properties owned by the family of Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. on Friday morning after he was alleged to be one of the masterminds behind the assassination of Governor Roel Degamo.

In Negros Oriental, authorities raided three homes in Bayawan City and one resort in Basay Town.

Police found several firearms of varying calibers within the properties and are currently taking inventory of the seized items.

The search warrant which also included Axel and Kurt Teves, the congressman’s sons, was issued by Judge Allan Francisco Garciano of the 7th Judicial Region in Mandaue City.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group requested the search warrant as it believed that grenades and high-caliber firearms that are against the law for civilians to possess were kept in the four properties.

Teves’ family refused to comment on the raid.

Suspect names “Congressman Teves” as mastermind

“Part of our investigation points to that direction, however, no one is exempted,” Special Investigation Task Force Degamo spokesperson PLtCol Ace Pelare told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Friday when specifically asked about claims that Rep. Arnolfo Teves was the mastermind.

On Thursday, one of the suspects said he was told a "Congressman Teves" orchestrated the plan, although he said he never personally met the latter.

Negros Oriental Gov. Degamo was killed in his home in on March 4, with the attack leaving eight others dead.

Si Congressman Teves ‘yung pagkaalam ko,” the suspect told reporters while being escorted by authorities.

“Nagtanong kasi ako kung sinong may-ari nung safe house namin at saka lupain doon. Teves daw,” he added.

[Translation: To my knowledge, it’s Congressman Teves. I asked who owns our safe house and the land there, and they told me it’s him.]

The Police Regional Office 7 said in a statement that the suspect’s declaration against “Congressman Teves” is something they got even before it was made publicly.

"While we had these significant developments at hand at the early stage of the conduct of massive hot pursuit operations, we maintained that these be revealed in due time not to compromise the conduct of investigations," it said.

Meanwhile, the alleged perpetrator also claimed he was recruited by a certain “Marvin,” who pointed to Teves as the brains behind the assassination.

Asked to confirm if he was referring to incumbent Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr., the suspect said he was not given a specific name.

The lawmaker's brother, Pryde Henry Teves, also previously served as congressman until 2016.

In the gubernatorial elections last May, Pryde Henry ran against Degamo and was initially proclaimed winner until the Commission on Elections nullified his victory in September.

READ: Comelec invalidates Teves win in Negros Oriental; Degamo to return as governor

Rep. Teves earlier maintained he and his family had nothing to do with the murder, saying they would not benefit from it. 

His camp also called on those concerned to "observe sobriety" in their statements regarding allegations against him.

Pelare said the police are already in the final stretch of their investigation, collecting some pieces of evidence that could bolster the cases filed against the suspects. They have also established what transpired before, during, and after the assassination, he added without giving details.

The motive was also further narrowed down to personal grudge, and intense political rivalry, he said.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla also said on Thursday that they are looking into the possibility that there were multiple orchestrators of the killing.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department said cases for murder and frustrated murder, as well as for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, were filed against four arrested suspects and 12 John Does.

One other suspect was killed in an armed encounter with police hours after the shooting of Degamo.