Press Release
April 18, 2023

April 18, 2023
Agenda: P.S. Res. No. 518 - Brazen Assassination of Incumbent Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo (By: Sen. Hontiveros)

Sen. Dela Rosa: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to thank you all for coming to the second hearing of this Committee, on Proposed Senate Resolution No. 518.

Yesterday, we were able to discuss several points on the brazen assassination of Governor Degamo that happened last March 4, 2023 and the state of peace and order in the province of Negros Oriental.

Napakinggan natin ang panig ng kanyang maybahay, si Mayor Janice Degamo. We feel her pain, and we condole with her over the loss of a good public servant and an even better man. Napakinggan din natin ang panig ni Mr. Henry Teves, na ngayon ay nadadawit sa kasong ito at sa isyu ng illegal firearms. He categorically denied any involvement in such alleged illegal activities.

Prior to the assassination of Governor Degamo, there were already a spate of killings in Negros Oriental. Several deaths of government officials were alleged to be politically motivated. But at this point, motive is irrelevant. One loss of life is one loss of life too many. Five hundred murders in a span of five years or an average of one hundred killings a year in a province is not only alarming but also terrifying.

The numbers are giving us a heartbreaking picture. We need to shed light on why such violence appears to be given free reign in what is an otherwise very beautiful province.

The CAAP and PNP have clarified the alleged irregularities in the alleged helicopter landing in Mawab, Davao de Oro, attributed to Congressman Teves, [which] is actually owned by Bayawan Agri-Venture Corporation and was merely conducting a maintenance flight last March 5. The flight plan of which was confirmed by CAAP to be Davao City, Mawab, Davao De Oro, Davao City and no gunmen were transported on that flight as manifested in the manifest that was given by CAAP and confirmed by the PNP. And also, all the alleged gunmen in that particular day were all accounted for according to DILG and the PNP.

Lastly, our invitation to Representative Arnie Teves to physically attend this hearing is still standing. Should he decide to attend, we have assured him of his safety inside and outside the premises of this august body, with the help, of course, of [our] good Secretary of Interior and Local Government, Benjamin Abalos. Those who intend to speak out the truth shall always be welcomed and protected by this institution.

Today, we continue with the testimonies of the victims, families, and loved ones of these seemingly politically motivated killings and we will also hear from Negrenses who are allegedly victims of land grabbing and illegal businesses in their province. As always, we emphasize that this is in aid of legislation. Paano ba makakatulong ang Senado? Anong mga polisiya ang kailangang gawin at anong batas ang kailangan nating amyendahan?

Yesterday some of them were identified, such as:

1. Strict regulation on the selling and using of military and police uniform

2. Amending the Omnibus Election Code, particularly Section 69 on nuisance candidates;

3. Amending the Local Government Code to ensure that the authority to appoint Provincial Directors must be with the PNP and not with the Local Government officials;

4. Crafting a law that would effectively prevent the organization of private armies not only in Mindanao but nationwide;

5. Monitoring dishonorably discharged military personnel;

6. Inventory of loose firearms and possible amendments to the Firearms Law;

7. Updating of the PNP's Standard of Procedures in addressing the complaints of our citizens; and

8. Imposition of death penalty against erring security personnel who commit heinous crimes taking undue advantage of their training, knowledge and skills.

We continue to welcome your input and suggestions in this regard, so that we can ultimately restore order in our communities.

However, and allow me to end my opening remarks with this sentiment: it is still my fervent hope that a day will come that we will no longer need to run to legislation to prevent heartless violence. We are one nation, after all. I hope that this sense of unity and wholeness will permeate our politics, and not the other way around. Tulungan natin ang ating Inang Bayan. She needs us now more than ever.

And before I finally end, I just would like to clarify some malicious allegations circulating [on] social media, particularly Negros Oriental, na ako daw, being the chairman of this committee is biased to the Teves because ako daw ay bayad na ni Teves. Ako daw ay tuta ni Teves.

I would answer that allegation na hindi po ako kaya bayaran kahit gaano kayaman ni Teves, hindi po kaya akong bayaran ng kahit sino man. At 'yung asawa ko daw ay related sa mga Teves by affinity. Ang asawa ko po ay mayroong auntie, bale pinsan ng kanyang mother na married to a Teves diyan sa Dumaguete. Pero itong Teves na ito ay hindi po ito, not in any way related to the Teves family of Arnie Teves. Ito pong Teves na napangasawa ng auntie ng aking asawa ay 'yung mga Teves na malalaking tao na mga Kastila doon sa Bais City. Hindi po ito in any way related. Sila po'y descendants nu'ng Serafin Teves and not with Herminio Teves. Ito pong Herminio Teves na pamilya ng Arnie Teves ay nakabase po sa Bayawan City which is, more or less, 200 kilometers away if I'm not mistaken.

So 'yun po ang aking disclaimer. Hindi po ako nababayaran, hindi po ako naging tuta, at hindi po ako related sa mga Teves for full disclosure purposes. Maraming salamat.

Sen. Joel Villanueva: Mr. Chairman, I don't have any opening statement. I just would like to point out and also spread into the records my sincerest thanks and great respect to Your Honor as the chairperson of this committee. I for one is a living testimony of what he stated. Hindi kayang bayaran ng salapi, hindi kayang silawin ng anumang kayamanan si Sen. Bato Dela Rosa at ako na ho mismo ang nagpapatunay niyan as a living testimony and I'd like to again to put my full support to the leadership to the chairperson of this committee and I was a living testimony as well when the good chairman mentioned several times and I can no longer count he mentioned we have to make sure this hearing would be impartial and everyone should be heard. So I'd like to out that on record. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Sen. Dela Rosa: Thank you, Majority Leader. Thank you for that support, I really appreciate it. Alam mo, nakaka... H'wag lang madamay 'yung ibang miyembro ng komite na ito because I am the chairman, masayang 'yung paghihirap natin dito na kahit naka-break tayo, tayo'y maghi-hearing dahil nga gusto lang talaga natin ma-address 'yung peace and order situation ng Negros Oriental.

Mayor Janice Degamo: Sen. Bato, good morning, Mr. Chair. Sen. Bato, in line with what Sen. Joel Villanueva has said and Sen. JV Ejercito has said, allow me also to express, kami, the aggrieved party also believe in your capacity to be fair and not to be biased in holding this Senate inquiry po. Siguro po 'yung pag-express ng mga taga-Negros Oriental ng kanilang saloobin, tayo po nandidito, nakikita po natin talaga kung ano 'yung talagang ginagawa natin dito. Kaya humihingi po kami ng pasensya on behalf of the people of Negros Oriental. Love po nila si Governor kaya siguro 'pag meron silang nakikitang mga bagay-bagay, they would express something like that. But kami po na aggrieved party, we are here, we are very appreciative po, 'yung break niyo ginamit niyo po para i-meet kami. Pinapili po ako ni Sen. Bato ng time kailan pwede, in fact, there was a schedule way earlier pero sinabi ko po sa kanya, sa inyo po na may naka-schedule na rin po, kung pupwede ba na on this day po. Kaya I would like to put that on record that the victims, kami po na mga nandirito, we are appreciative of the work that you do as the chairperson of this committee po helping us to seek justice and legislative change for our province so that we will no longer see a violence and cruelty to proliferate in our province po. Salamat po, Sen. Bato.

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