SEEKING JUSTICE. Witnesses to the killings in Negros Oriental board a C-130 Air Force aircraft at the Dumaguete-Sibulan airport on May 9, 2023. They attended the resumption of the Senate inquiry into the murder of Gov. Roel Degamo and other killings in Negros Oriental. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – One of the 10 former soldiers charged in the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo has recanted his testimony.

Jhudiel Rivero (a.k.a. Osmundo Rivero) claimed the police coerced him to admit his involvement in the March 4 massacre in Pamplona town and that he does not know fugitive Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., according to a counter-affidavit confirmed by his counsel, Harold Montalbo, on Monday.

He claimed he was merely reporting his missing motorcycle the day after the slay but was arrested instead by the Bayawan City police.

"Dahil sa takot at baka ako at ang aking pamilya ay patayin, sumunod lamang ako sa kanilang gusto kahit na ang totoo ay hindi ko kailanman nakita o nakausap si Cong. Teves. Hindi ko rin siya kilala (Because I was scared that I or my family would be killed, I did what they wanted even if the truth is I never saw nor spoke to Cong. Teves. I do not know him)," Rivero stated.

A Department of Justice statement on March 7 said Rivero is among the first four who will be slapped with murder and frustrated murder charges before the Negros Oriental court.

Rivero also claimed his family was abducted by police from their house in Zamboanga del Sur -- his 40-year-old wife, Queenie; 15-year-old stepson, Christian; and 2-year-old son, Jhopiel Keith.

Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla said all family members of the persons arrested and who have initially cooperated in the government investigation have been secured for possible admission into the witness protection program.

Teves was formally charged on May 17 by the National Bureau of Investigation for masterminding the Degamo slay.

NBI Director Medardo de Lemos personally attended the filing, with boxes of evidence to back the charges of murder, multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder. (PNA)