By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – Negros Oriental Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. issued a statement regarding his implication in the assassination of Governor Roel Ragay Degamo and eight others tagged as the “Pamplona massacre” on March 4.
In a 17-minute video posted on his Facebook page on March 21, Teves said he really wants to go home. But he stressed the “grave security threat” on his life and his family which prevented him from returning.
Teves said he left the country on Feb 28 for medical reasons and was supposed to be back on March 8, as his travel authority expired on March 9.
He was advised to return to the country after he was tagged by one of the arrested suspects as the alleged mastermind in the killing.
But Teves asked for a two-month leave of absence from the House of Representatives because of supposed threats.
On March 22, the House of Representatives meted Teves a 60-day suspension for disorderly behavior amid his continued absence.
Teves said he appealed to be given the chance to air his side through an online conference during a hearing, but he was not allowed as Congress wanted him to speak in person.
“Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit pinipilit nila akong pumunta ng face-to-face na nakiusap nga ako na hindi muna magpapakita doon ng physical dahil sa seryosong pagbabanta at grabeng pagbabanta sa aking buhay. Sa totoo lang gusto ko na talagang umuwi. Kung hindi lang dahil sa banta sa aking buhay, umuwi na ako,” Teves said.
Teves said that Degamo had bodyguards and his house is near an Army detachment. But even the Army and the police failed to secure him.
“Saan na siya ngayon? Nakalibing. Tapos kaya niyo akong isecure? Diba?” he asked.
“Gusto kong umuwi kung hindi lang delikado ang buhay ko,” Teves said, adding that he does not want to fight the government.
“Sino ba naman si Arnie para lumaban sa gobyerno o sino man diyan? Ang kaya ko lang gawin ay magsabi ng katotohanan. Tama na iyong pang-aapi. Tama na iyong pagtuturo. Tama na iyong pang-iipit sa akin,” he said.
Teves said he has no problem if he is being investigated, but he wants all angles to be explored. “Ang nangyari ngayon, pagkatapos nung murder, ako na agad ang tinumbok,” he added.
Teves has earlier denied his link to the incident, claiming that there are people who just want to pin it on him.
“Bago pa ako umuwi, nangyari ang pamamaslang. Agad-agad na ibinintang nila sa akin. Diba dapat sa lahat ng imbestigasyon, una ang ebidensya bago ang suspect o mastermind? Anong nangyari sa Negros Oriental? Naglagay na agad sila ng suspect at mastermind, sabay pinahabol ang ebidensya na tumama sa gusto nilang maging mastermind o suspect. Diba mali? Hindi naman dapat ganoon,” Teves said in his recent video.
Teves said that he is asking for a fair investigation. “Hinihingi ko lang naman fairness at hindi ididiin ang isang tao. Dito sa nangyaring pamamaslang, diretso itinuro na agad sa akin,” he added.
“Tingnan ang anggulo ng pamilya o kakilala. Hindi puwedeng nakatuon lang sa isang tao at pagkasiyahin niyo doon or idiin lahat ng kaso at ipasakto lahat ng ebidensya na hinagilap or inimbento niyo. Huwag naman sana,” he said.
“Huwag niyo naman sanang gawing sine ang totoong buhay. Nagsasakripisyo kayo ng tao para sa palabas niyo. Huwag naman ganoon. Ano kaya kung kayo ang sa lugar ko? Gawin kayong sacrificial lamb. Tama na script niyo dahil obvious na sa lahat. Scripted lahat gawa-gawa,” he added.
Teves asked how can justice be attained if only one person is being pinned in the incident.
“Paano natin makukuha ang tootong hustisya dito? Pareho kami ng pamily Degamo na biktima dito, dahil ginagamit ako ng iba, marami diyan for political mileage,” he added.
He also reacted to the series of raids on some of his properties in the province after the Pamplona incident that also wounded 17 individuals. Authorities seized firearms, ammunition, and explosives during the operation.
Teves said that he already hinted on Jan. 11 about the plan of subjecting him to a raid.
“Sino naman tanga na mag-iiwan ng kahit anong illegal doon na ireraid ka? Hindi naman tayo ipinanganak kahapon. Kayo na mag-isip, sa tingin niyo mag-iiwan ako ng illegal doon kung meron man akong illegal? Hindi diba? Alam mo ng ireraid ka mag-iiwan ka pa?, Teves asked.
He said that he applied for license renewal of his firearms, but he was not allowed to process it even if he was able to clear some irregularities on his documents.
Teves said he wanted to talk to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to air his side about all the allegations against him.
Meanwhile, Degamo’s wife, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo said in a video posted on her Facebook page yesterday that she is seeking a Senate inquiry, as she believed that it can help the authorities identify the perpetrators.
Mayor Degamo said that she was surprised to see that someone is claiming to be a victim.
“Sila din daw ay biktima. Hindi po totoo iyon. They are the perpetrators. The victims are those who lost their loved ones,” she said.
Mayor Degamo said that they should wait for the government to release the evidence pointing to the culprit and the mastermind.
“Paano magiging biktima ang isang tao who has been the cause of some deaths, not just of the eight people and Gov. Degamo, but others before the killing,” she said.
In reaction to Teves’s video, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla advised Teves to “stop the drama” and just go home and face the allegations against him.
Remulla, however, refused to comment on Teves’s statement about his appeal for the investigators to be fair in the ongoing probe on Degamo’s assassination.
Deagmo was killed at his residence in Pamplona town on March 4, barely five months after he unseated former Bayawan City Mayor Pryde Henry Teves, who is the brother of Rep. Teves.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) credited to Degamo the votes of a nuisance candidate “Ruel Degamo.”
Ten suspects have been accounted for, as of this writing. Of the number, four have been arrested, while six others surrendered.