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CIDG raids ex-NegOr gov’s compound

March 25, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 260 views

Finds P18.9M cash; weapons, arms cache

OVER P18.9 million in cash, more than a dozen pieces of high-powered ammunition, many of them believed to be unlicensed, and over 9,000 assorted live ammunition enough to equip several platoons of soldiers were among those recovered inside the raided compound of former Negros Oriental Governor Pryde Henry Teves, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported on Saturday.

The cash worth P18,926,806 were found stashed inside two digital vaults, which were discovered inside a white Hyundai H350, which was also searched by a raiding team from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Friday morning.

The vault also yielded various documents containing text logs, assorted keys, and two iPhones which will all be subjected to a thorough forensic investigation. At least three suspects were also arrested as a result of the raid.

Members of the PNP-CIDG under Brigadier General Romeo M. Caramat Jr., assisted by officers from the PNP Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and the Sta. Catalina Municipal Police Station (MPS) in Negros Oriental on Friday searched the HDJ Bayawan Agri-Ventures Corporation and JDJ Tolong Compound located in Barangay Caranoche in Sta. Catalina municipality.

The search supervised by Col. Hansel M. Marantan was conducted on the strength of a warrant for violation of Republic Act (RA) 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act of 2013 issued against Pryde Teves, also a former Negros Oriental representative, by Judge Allan Francisco Garcia of the Mandaue City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 83.

Pryde, a brother of Negros Oriental (3rd District) Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., was not around during the conduct of the search. However, three staff of JDHJ Tolong were led by their administration manager and supervisor and local barangay officials as well as a municipal councilor of Sta. Catalina witnessed the service of the search warrant against Pryde, a resident of Bgy. Villareal in Bayawan City and described as the president of HDJ Bayawan Agri-Ventures Corp. and HDJ Tolong.

Caramat said that they arrested the chief security officer of HDJ Tolong; one security guard, and a firetruck driver.

The official said that recovered during the searches were six rifles of various calibers, nine different pistols, a total of 9,615 assorted live ammunition, 207 pieces of spent cartridges, assorted gun accessories, several identification cards, ATM cards and documents, and the nearly P19 million in cash.

Caramat said officers equipped with Body-Worn Cameras conducted the search. He added that the recovered firearms will be placed under the safekeeping of the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office under Col. Paul Kenneth T. Lucas for verification.

Among those recovered during the search were a box containing 1,000 rounds of live caliber 5.56 ammunition for M-16 automatic rifles; four cal. .45 steel magazines, each containing 15 bullets; a box with 50 live 9mm ammunition; 39 boxes, each containing 50 live cal. 5.7 ammunition or a total of 1,950 bullets; 14 boxes containing 700 live M-16 ammunition; a box containing an Ingram machine pistol’s lower receiver; an Ingram upper receiver; two Ingram steel magazines with 13 bullets.

Two pieces of cal. 5.56mm ammunition link with a total of 366 bullets; a box with 13 live 500 SW Mag ammunition; one chamber-loaded M-14 cal. 7.64 rifle without serial numbers but mounted with a sniper scope and attacked to a bipod; two plastic M-16 magazines with 35 bullets; one cal. 9mm pistol with a magazine containing 15 bullets.

A cal. .22 steel magazine; a .22 bipod; 12 live cal. .22 ammunition; a box with 69 live 9mm ammunition; 35 boxes containing 700 live cal. 5.56 bullets; 54 boxes containing 2,700 pieces of live cal. 5.7 ammunition; three boxes containing 180 live Hornady 500 ammunition; and several boxes found containing more than 600 pieces of live cal. 5.56 bullets.

The CIDG raiding team also said that a still unidentified man inside the HDJ Tolong Compound threw his firearm and fled on foot after noticing the arrival of officers. The subsequent search of the area led to the confiscation of one M-16 rifle and a Carbine rifle without serial numbers, and 29 live Carbine ammunition.

Members of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 under Brig. Gen. Anthony A. Aberin and the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office (PPO), headed by its new director, Col. Alex G. Recinto, supported the PNP-CIDG’ operations in the province.

Pryde Teves served as governor of Negros Oriental from June to October 2022 until the Commission on Elections (Comelec) annulled his proclamation due to a recount of the May 2022 polls.

Pryde was replaced by the late Gov. Roel R. Degamo, who, along with eight others, was assassinated by a group of cold-blooded killers armed with M-16 automatic rifles inside his residence in Pamplona municipality last March 4.

Last March 10, PNP-CIDG operatives, backed up by troops from the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) and the Philippine Army’s (PA) 11th Infantry Battalion (IB) also simultaneously raided several houses and other properties of Rep. Arnie Teves, who remained abroad.

The raids in Purok 4, Bgy. Poblacion in Basay municipality led to the arrest of six suspects and the recovery of six rifles, one 12-gauge shotgun and six handguns, and hundreds of rounds of various ammunition.

The weapons recovered include five M4 automatic rifles, one M-16 with an M-203 grenade launcher, and two hand grenades.

The raids were conducted in line with the ongoing investigation into the killing of Gov. Degamo and in relation to the PNP-CIDG’s flagship project, “Oplan: Paglalansag Omega,” aimed at accounting for partisan armed groups and loose firearms in the country.

Caramat said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) last March 17 filed charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives against four suspects arrested during the March 10 raids. He identified those charged before the Bayawan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) as Heracleo Oray, Rodolfo Teves Maturan, Joseph Kyle Maturan, and Roland Pablio.

The official said that the March 10 operation saw his men serving search warrants in five different targets in Bayawan City and Basay municipality, including those owned and/or controlled by Rep. Teves.

Caramat said that since Rep. Teves remained at large, the criminal complaints against him are still under ongoing preliminary investigation.

He also said they respect the decision of the DOJ to dismiss one of the criminal cases they filed against Pablio, who is a co-respondent of the lawmaker. “This only goes to show that the government is here to prosecute, not to persecute,” the official said.

Caramat, however, said that there are still five cases being heard by the DOJ, with four suspects still under custody.

Last March 15, the PNP-CIDG also filed charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives against Rep. Teves and his two sons following the discovery of the weapons inside their house in Bayawan City.

“We are just waiting for the resolution to be issued by the DOJ on this case,” Caramat said. The PNP-CIDG also filed three counts of murder against Rep. Teves and several others in connection with the killing of Negros Oriental board member Miguel Dungog and two others.

The PNP-CIDG expressed confidence they have a strong case against the accused.