JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Monday, March 27, 2023, that authorities are looking into two to three persons, including suspended Negros Oriental Third District Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr., as the brains behind the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

In an interview with reporters, Remulla said the suspected masterminds are within reach of the investigators.

"They can be contacted, I think. There’s always social media. Meron namang social media diyan. Meron nga yung isa parang nag text sa akin. I told you about it last week. Congressman Teves texted me," said Remulla.

“I think they're considered — they're being considered as masterminds, but I don't know yet. I have to get into the panel of prosecutors. But right now, the way it is progressing, that's the direction we're heading,” he added.

Last week, Remulla said Teves reached out to him amid the ongoing probe into Degamo’s assassination on March 4 that also resulted in the killing of eight more individuals.

Since the killing, Teves has uploaded on Facebook two videos where he repeatedly denied allegations linking him to Degamo’s murder and even asked for fairness amid alleged “operations” against him.

In a separate press conference, Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson Mico Clavano said the investigation is leading them to consider political rivalry as the motive in the killing.

“From the very get go sinabi na ni PBBM (President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.) na this is purely political, so amongst all the motives na siguro kinonsider ng special task force, isa yun sa mga kinonsider na this is purely political and when you say it’s purely political, ‘yung political rival po ni Governor Degamo. The known political rival is the Teves family kaya sinabi yun ni secretary kanina na he is one of those we are considering,” he said.

Clavano said they also looked into other possible motives such as love triangle and the involvement of the New People’s Army (NPA) but they were not able to get pieces of evidence to support these angles.

“It’s hard to go, follow through with something na wala kaming ebidensya. Sa DOJ, we will only go where the evidence takes us, and this is where we are going,” he said.

“There is no intention to put anybody in a bad light. We are just going through the evidence,” he added.

So far, 10 suspects, who were former members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including nine who “directly” participated in the killing, are now under the government’s custody. Four of the suspects were arrested while the others surrendered.

Charges of murder and frustrated murder have been filed against them before the DOJ.

Clavano said investigators are continuously collecting "solid material evidence" aside from the testimonies of the arrested and surrendered suspects to ensure an airtight case especially against the masterminds. (SunStar Philippines)