Pryde Teves denies involvement in Degamo's killing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) — Former Negros Oriental Governor Pryde Teves denied involvement in the killing of former political rival Roel Degamo, saying his conscience is clear.

Teves said he would not do such a violent act as he was also a victim of violence.

"My conscience is clear. Definitely, my conscience is clear. This is what I would like to explain, violence, I am a victim of violence. Terrorism, I am a victim of terrorism," he told CNN Philippines' News Night.

"All my scars are there, and I feel the pain until today. Why would I, in my conscience, be an instrument for other human beings to experience the same fate when it is very hard."

Pryde ran against Degamo in the gubernational race in the May 2022 elections. However, the Commission on Elections en banc nullified the former's victory and proclaimed the latter as the winner.

Pryde's older brother Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves has been tagged as the alleged mastermind in Degamo's assassination.

Police have been conducting raids on properties owned by the Teves family, including the HDJ Bayawan Agri-Venture Corp. in Santa Catalina town, which yielded firearms and ammunition.

But Pryde explained that he just leads the sugar milling company and owns only a small part of it.

"HDJ is a company which I owned 10%. I am the president of that company because out of the six stockholders, while I am not a big stockholder, I am the most experienced as far as sugar milling is concerned," he said.

Authorities have so far seized approximately ₱18 million in cash, firearms, ammunition, and explosives in the raid.

Pryde already told authorities that some of the items confiscated were owned by the security agency that previously occupied one of the houses in the compound.

"Yung nakita nilang mga baril doon sa bahay sa labas na in-occupy ng security agency, inexpect ko na magkakaroon ng loose firearms, kasi nasabi na sa akin ng chief security officer that a few weeks back they failed to renew their juridical LTOPF (License To Own And Possess Firearms)," he noted.

[Translation: I already expected that there will be loose firearms in the house because the chief security officer of the security agency that previously occupied it informed me a few weeks back that they failed to renew their juridical LTOPF.]

The younger Teves reiterated that he is coordinating with authorities, noting that he already signed a waiver of confidentiality allowing them to open his bank accounts, phone logs, emails, and other private data.

"Because in that way, I am open for everything. They can see kung sino kausap ko, sino binayaran ko, saan ako kumukuha ng pera, kasi matatahi-tahi naman po yan eh," Pryde said.

[Translation: Because in that way, I am open for everything. They can see who I am talking to, who I am transacting with, where I get my money, and they can connect the dots.]

Coming home

Pryde said he and other family members have been convincing the suspended lawmaker to return home. He pointed out that their families are being affected by the controversy.

"We wanted him to come home because kami ditong naiwan [all of us here], who have to do the daily grind, kami ang nakaka-feel ng pressure 'di ba [we are the ones feeling the pressure]," he said.

"I cannot speak on his behalf; he has his own mind. But as a younger brother I can assure you hindi ako nagkukulang sa pagbibigay sa kanya ng payo [I did not falter in giving him advice]... Let him speak for himself because he is already an adult."

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio maintained that his client, the older Teves, is not hiding and is willing to return to the country if his safety is assured.

The Philippine National Police, as well President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., already assured the lawmaker that the government will provide security once he returns to the Philippines.