FOUR more suspects who may have directly participated in the murder of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others on March 4 surrendered to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, at a press briefing, said the suspects, who were former soldiers, surrendered through the assistance of enlisted military personnel.
With the surrender of the four suspects, Remulla said almost all of the armed men who barged into the house of Degamo have been accounted for.
However, Remulla said authorities are still looking for not more than three persons who were involved in the plan to assassinate Degamo.
“We almost have all the people there, who were part of the team that attacked Governor Degamo and almost all of them in custody except for one, two or three who were really involved in the plan,” Remulla said.
The four former soldiers are currently undergoing debriefing and were expected to be turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last Tuesday.
Remulla said he has no information if the four surrenderers have provided the military vital information that would corroborate the statements previously given by the other suspects pointing to Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. as the alleged mastermind in the murder plot.
Earlier, Remulla said circumstantial evidence so far gathered by investigators have pointed to Teves’ possible role in the Degamo slay case.
Likewise, Remulla revealed that he received a text message from Teves asking if they could talk over the phone. The DOJ chief, however, said he did not accede to the request.
Remulla explained that he prefers to talk to Teves in the presence of other people to prevent any possible “misinterpretation.”
“I don’t want words twisted, so if I talked to him it would be in front of other people,” Remulla stressed.
“He wants to talk to me but I have not given an answer because we’re still busy doing what we’re doing. I don’t want it to distract me from what I have to do first,” he added.
Remulla said he still has no information if Teves has returned to the country.
Earlier, a discharged soldier also surrendered to the AFP and admitted being one of those who participated in the killing of Degamo.
Remulla said the soldier provided “very critical” information that corroborates the statements previously provided by four suspects who are now under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The DOJ chief said investigators are currently doing case build-up to ensure that they could build an airtight case against the suspects and the masterminds.
The government has formed Task Force Degamo composed of the DOJ, NBI, AFP, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) for the immediate resolution of the case and to maintain peace and order in Negros Oriental.
DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos has been designated to lead the task force.
Teves has denied any involvement in the killing of Degamo but said he would not be surprised if he and his brother Pryde Henry Teves would be implicated in the crime.
The Teveses are known political rivals of Degamo.