FORMER Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves has maintained his innocence over the killing of Governor Roel Degamo following the arrest of some of his security personnel, including those who allegedly yielded several materials believed to have been used in the planning stage of the murder.

In a radio interview, Teves denied that Nigel Electona is the chief security officer of HDJ Bayawan Agri-ventures Corporation located in Tolong compound, Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental, to which he serves as the president.

He said Electona was the owner of the security agency to which he gave favor upon the request of his older brother, suspended Negros Oriental Third District representative Arnolfo Teves Jr., by awarding him a contract to supply security services to the sugar mill compound.

“The mill is about 52 hectares in area. The gated compound is 10 hectares. I think I am one of his (Electona) biggest clients, ako pinakamaraming guwardiya na kinukuha sa kanya (I hired the most security guards from him). He requested to use one of the abandoned houses outside the gated compound but within the raw land property pa rin sa mill to live there,” said Teves.

“When we purchased Tolong, he was instrumental na nabili namin kasi ‘yung daan papasok nung mill sakanya, sa pamilya niya, binenta nya sa kapatid ko, kay Arnie (Arnolfo) ‘yung lupa ‘yung daan. After we purchased it Arnie requested me to give back a favor to Nigel for him to have a decent living,” he added.

(When we purchased Tolong, he was instrumental in our acquisition because the road leading to the mill was owned by him, his family. He sold it to my brother, Arnie (Arnolfo). After we purchased it, Arnie requested me to give a favor to Nigel so that he could have a decent living.)

The older Teves is among those considered as the brains behind Degamo’s killing.

Electona was among the three individuals arrested in a raid conducted on March 24 at the HDJ Tolong compound where various high-powered firearms, ammunition and improvised explosive devices (IED) were recovered.

Authorities also discovered cash worth almost P19 million inside a van parked within the compound.

Pryde said that the van belongs to a resort owned by the congressman and was brought to the compound on March 10. He added that he was not aware of its contents until it was searched by authorities.

In a separate raid conducted on March 26 at Electona's residence, alleged illegal firearms and ammunition, hand grenades, pictures of Degamo and his family, maps, house routes, and a photo of the gate of Degamo's residence were found. These items are believed to have been used in the planning stage of the murder.

“Si Arnie kasi ‘di ba nag-drugs din, naging drug counselor doon sa drug rehab, I would like to believe that the reason why naging kaibigan niya (Nigel) si kuya (Arnolfo) kasi tinulungan siya na makaalis sa problema n’ya sa drugs,” said Pryde.

(Arnie also had drug issues, right? He became a drug counselor in the drug rehab. I would like to believe that the reason why he became friends with Nigel was that he helped him overcome his drug problem.)

Electona is a former police officer assigned in Dumaguete City, who was dismissed from service due to involvement in illegal drugs.

Police said he played a major role in the killing of Degamo.

Pryde said that even before the raid, he had been informed about the lack of a judicial license for Electona's security agency to own and possess a firearm.

He said he had already warned of disengaging from the agency due to the lack of necessary permits.

Pryde said he would be issuing a waiver to the Department of Justice to open all his bank transactions, emails, and phone records to clear his name from the incident amid the ongoing probe.

He also expected to be linked to Degamo’s killing as he was his direct political rival.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) earlier nullified Pryde’s victory during the 2022 national and local elections as the province’s governor in favor of Degamo.

The poll body overturned his win following the transfer of votes of nuisance candidate “Ruel Degamo” to “Roel Degamo.”

Pryde also urged Arnoflo to return to the country and face all the allegations against him, noting that it was President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who already assured his safety.

The embattled lawmaker is currently out of the country despite his expired travel authority, which prompted his fellow congressmen to suspend him.

Aside from Degamo’s murder, Arnolfo was also tagged as the mastermind in the killing of three individuals in Dumaguete City in 2019.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the older Teves is already considered as a fugitive, even charges against him in relation to Degamo’s murder have yet to be filed.

“When one is suspected of having committed a crime, he is already suspected to be... considered to be a fugitive because he does not show up,” Remulla said.

“Actions would speak louder than words here... he is not showing up. He is evading us or trying to evade the law,” he added.

Meanwhile, Electona and the others who were arrested in HDJ Tolong compound said they will file charges before the Commission on Human Rights over alleged harassment by the police.

Their legal counsel Michael Mella said the three were being pressured to name Arnolfo as the one who ordered them to bury the illegal IEDs and firearms in the sugar mill compound.

He said he advised the three to remain silent. (SunStar Philippines)