DOJ clarifies no recantation yet among Degamo slay suspects

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 19) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday clarified the 11 detained suspects in the murder of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo have not yet recanted their earlier statements even after several of them hired private lawyers.

“Just to set the record straight, there have been no recantations to date. What actually happened was that several of the suspects have lawyered up,” DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

He was referring to the 6 or 7 suspects who have become uncooperative after getting themselves a private lawyer. 

Following this move, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier said it is possible that these suspects may take back their statements, but noted they are not afraid of this “because everything was fairly given, said in front of counsel.”

Clavano said this could be seen as a good thing because it assures the suspects that their rights are protected.

While the department also expects the remaining suspects to get private lawyers, Clavano said they believe they have a solid case.

“As of right now, we do have the affidavits from the time that they were arrested and these statements are usually made, well after a startling occurrence like the assassination or the massacre, they were caught soon after. And the natural tendency of people to speak the truth after something like that has happened is very high,” Clavano explained.

He also noted “they all pointed in the same direction without them having the time to collude.”

Authorities earlier said that the statements made by some suspects are pointing to Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves as one of the masterminds behind the assassination of Degamo.

The National Bureau of Investigation filed this week murder complaints against the lawmaker who continues to refuse to return to the country after flying to the United States late-February.