ACCOMPLICE. The National Bureau of Investigation releases a photo of the alleged getaway chopper used by some of the suspects in the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo in Pamplona town on March 4, 2023. Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a press briefing on Monday (April 24) that the chopper, reportedly owned by Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves, was found in a hangar in Dumaguete City. (Courtesy of NBI)

MANILA – The government is seeking to seize a helicopter allegedly owned by fugitive Negros Oriental lawmaker Arnolfo Teves that was reportedly used to transport to Mindanao the attackers of slain governor Roel Degamo.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a press briefing Monday that a search warrant has been issued to get hold of the helicopter.

He said the helicopter has been found in a hangar in Dumaguete City but with its markings removed.

"Nilikas sila (suspects) mula Negros Oriental papuntang Maguindanao, ginamit ‘yung chopper, kaya ito’y inisyuhan ng warrant (They were transported from Negros Oriental to Maguindanao using the chopper so a warrant was issued)," Remulla told reporters.

Remulla said some of the suspects did not pass through checkpoints, giving credence to the report that the chopper was used in their escape.

"Nahanap na ‘yung chopper. It’s going to be taken into custody. We are looking for a pilot. We wrote the PNP (Philippine National Police) to provide us a pilot so we can have it on the safekeeping of the PNP or the military in Cebu,” Remulla said.

An online search showed that Teves regularly used helicopters with the markings "Teves Cares" in moving around the province during calamities such as typhoons.

WIDOW’S FIGHT. Mayor Janice Degamo (center) of Pamplona town, Negros Oriental province, wife of slain governor Roel Degamo, talks to the media at the Department of Justice in Ermita, Manila on Monday (April 24, 2024). She attended the continuing preliminary investigation on the March 4 slay of her husband. (PNA photo by Benjamin Pulta)

Degamo’s widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, attended Monday the resumption of the preliminary investigation into the March 4 assassination that also killed eight others.

Nine of the 10 suspects under the National Bureau of Investigation custody were former soldiers.

The charges, once resolved by prosecutors, will be consolidated with other cases already before the courts.

Teves has refused to return to the country despite the expiry of his personal travel authority on March 9.

He is suspended for 60 days until May 22, with House Speaker Martin Romualdez acting as caretaker of the Third District of Negros Oriental. (PNA)