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Padilla advises Arnie Teves to return to PH, defend himself

Senator Robin Padilla on Friday advised Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. to return to the Philippines to defend himself on the cases filed against him, as well as the allegations linking him to the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

“Ang ma-advice ko sa kanya, mas maganda po ‘yan, Cong, na harapin mo na kung ikaw po, pagkatapos ninyo pong pagnilay nilayan—alam ko po ngayon nag-iisip pa kayo, nagdedesisyon pa po kayo—ang panalangin po namin, ang pakiusap po namin, ang samo po namin, dumating ang panahon na makauwi rin po kayo at ipagtanggol ang sarili ninyo,” Padilla said in an online interview.

(My advice to him, it would be better, Cong, to face the allegations —I know you are reflecting now, deciding—our prayer, our appeal is for the time to come for you to return to the country and defend yourself.)

He pointed out that Teves is still innocent as he is not yet convicted by the courts on the cases filed against him.

“You are innocent until proven guilty. So ngayon, inosente pa naman siya. Hindi pa naman dumaan siya sa hearing o paglilitis. Kaya sa ngayon ibigay natin sa kanya na siya ay inosente pa. At dapat Cong, kaibigan din naman ito, kasama din ito na mambabatas, harapin mo itong pagsubok na ito,” he said.

(He is still innocent, there is no hearing or trial yet so we should consider him as innocent. Cong, I consider him my friend, a fellow lawmaker, face the complaint.)

The action star-turned-politician, who was convicted for illegal possession of firearms in 1994 but secured absolute pardon in 2016, recalled that he also tried to escape the law after the issuance of an arrest warrant against him.

“Nangyari din sa akin 'yan. Sa experience ko, nung lumabas din ‘yung aking warrant of arrest, nagtago din ako ng isa’t kalahating buwan, umakyat pa nga ako ng bundok eh bago ko na-realize kailangan kong harapin kung ano man ang kaso,” Padilla said.

(That also happened to me. In my experience, I hid for one and a half months when the warrant of arrest against me was issued. I even went to the mountains before I realized that I should face whatever case was filed against me.)

Teves was cleared to leave the Philippines for a personal trip to the United States from February 28 to March 9 but he asked Speaker Martin Romualdez to grant him a two-month leave of absence “due to very grave threat" to his and his family's lives.

Teves has been named respondent in separate complaints in connection with incidents of killings in Negros Oriental in 2019 and the alleged illegal firearms seized from his homes during police raids last week.

The Negros Oriental solon was also linked by suspects in Degamo’s killing.

Teves earlier denied his and his family’s alleged involvement in the death of Degamo.

Earlier in the day, Ferdinand Topacio, Teves’ legal counsel, said there is no direct evidence linking Teves to Degamo’s death.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said they would consider Teves' overseas trip as "flight" if he will refuse to return to the country.

"Meron tayong legal adage na mabigat diyan: Flight is an indication of guilt. We will consider this a case of flight kapag hindi siya bumalik sa bansa [if he refuses to return to the country]," he said in an interview on Dobol B TV.—AOL, GMA Integrated News