State prosecutors set to start formal probe into Degamo slay case, DOJ says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — A panel of state prosecutors is set to launch its formal investigation into the March 4 murder of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine others, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Wednesday.

“We already finished the evaluation. The records have already been and will be forwarded by this morning to the panel that will conduct the investigation on the new cases filed by the National Bureau of Investigation,” Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Fadullon told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

He said this will include the latest murder complaints filed by the NBI against embattled Congressman Arnolfo Teves. 

Teves was tagged as one of the masterminds of Degamo's assassination — an accusation he denies. He has yet to return to the country since getting medical treatment in the United States in February.

Eleven other suspects in the Degamo murder case are under the custody of authorities.

Initially, their statements pointed to Teves as the mastermind along with his former bodyguard Marvin Miranda.

Suspect Osmundo “Jhudiel” Rivero, however, recanted his statement on Monday.

In his counter-affidavit, Rivero claimed he was kicked and hit while at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Headquarters in Camp Crame. He said he was made to say that Negros Oriental Representative Arnie Teves gave the order to kill Degamo, adding that his family was threatened.

Rivero’s counsel, Danny Villanueva, told CNN Philippines on Tuesday that his client’s affidavit of recantation was not yet accepted since the prosecutors required their camp to submit the sworn statements by the PNP of Negros Oriental and those executed by Rivero before the NBI.

The lawyer questioned this, noting that it is the prosecutors’ responsibility to provide the documents.

Fadullon said they already received Rivero’s affidavit of recantation, but it is the latter’s duty to prove his torture allegations, hence the need to submit supporting documents.

“These are allegations which are brought forward by accused Rivero and therefore it is incumbent upon Rivero to now present proof of the facts that he is now alleging in his affidavit of recantation,” Fadullon pointed out.

Villanueva has said his three other clients, Dahniel Lora, Romel Pattaguan, and Rogelio Antipolo Jr., have also recanted their statements.

Authorities have yet to receive a copy of their affidavits of recantation, but Fadullon said he expects these to be the same as to what Rivero submitted.

Fadullon maintained the case against the suspects is still strong since there are still other pieces of evidence that point to them.

READ: DOJ: More than enough evidence to pin down Degamo slay suspects