The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed one complaint for illegal possession of firearms and unlawful possession of explosives filed against Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr., its spokesperson said Saturday.
According to a report by Luisito Santos on Super Radyo dzBB, DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said the complaint was dismissed due to a lack of evidence against Teves, and that the lawmaker was not arrested when police authorities held a raid in one of his homes.
Further, the firearms were previously licensed to another respondent, Roland Pablio.
"It was dismissed only as to Congressman Teves, [according to the] resolution dated March 14, 2023, but there was a finding of probable cause against respondent Roland A. Pablio for violation of RA (Republic Act) 10591," Clavano said at the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City.
"There is no such thing as a conspiracy to commit illegal possession of firearms dahil klaro po, nasa pangalan po noong isa, nag-expire or ni-rebuke, so hindi mo rin puwedeng ituro iyong ibang tao doon sa kaso na iyon, hindi ba? Simple lang po iyong concept doon eh kaya po namin dinismiss," he added.
(There is no such thing as a conspiracy to commit illegal possession of firearms because it was clear those firearms with expired licenses were under the name of another person. You cannot involve other individuals in this case. It's a simple concept.)
Despite this, the DOJ said Teves is still facing seven other complaints, including illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives with his sons.
The raids as well as the complaint are connected to the complaints for three counts of murder that the CIDG filed against Teves for allegedly masterminding killings in 2019.
Teves is also being linked to the murder of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo on March 4, an allegation he has already denied.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said while it respected the DOJ's decision, it is studying the possibility of filing a motion for reconsideration.
“Pinag-aaralan po ngayon ng CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group), kagaya po ng nauna kong nasabi wala pang hawak na official copy ang CIDG so kailangan po makakuha ng official copy po ng resolution na inilabas po ng DOJ at tinitignan po at pag-aaralan kung there is a need to file a motion for reconsideration,” PNP spokesperson Police Colonel Jean Fajardo said at a press briefing.
(The CIDG is studying it now; as I said, the CIDG does not have an official copy yet. It is necessary to get an official copy of the resolution issued by the DOJ so that the CIDG can study it and determine if there is a need to file a motion for reconsideration.)
“May nakatakdang preliminary investigation po sa March 22 so hayaan po natin ang CIDG kung kanila pong mapagdedesisyunan kung sila po ay kailangang magsampa ng motion for reconsideration or magsusubmit sila ng ibang dokumento,” she added.
(There will be a preliminary investigation scheduled for March 22, so let us wait for the CIDG to decide if they will file a motion for reconsideration or if they will submit other documents.)
Fajardo said "the government is here to prosecute, not to persecute."
"We respect the findings and the disposition of the DOJ [on] this particular case or complaint. This only goes to show the government is here to prosecute, not to persecute," she said.
"Pero nililinaw namin na isa lang ito sa maraming kaso na sinampa ng PNP laban kay Congressman Teves Jr. Para sa kaalaman ng publiko may lima na pong information or kaso na naisampa ang ating mga prosecutors sa korte at may apat pa ring akusado na nasa kustodiya ng PNP. Ang iba pang kaso kasama si Congressman Teves bilang akusado ay isasailalim sa preliminary investigation ng DOJ," she added.
(We wish to clarify that this is just one of the many cases filed by the PNP against Congressman Teves. For the information of the public, there are already five cases that our prosecutors have filed in court, and there are still four suspects who are under the custody of the PNP. The other cases involving Congressman Teves will be subject to a preliminary investigation by the DOJ.)
Fajardo also said the CIDG has “strong evidence” to support the complaint for illegal possession of firearms against Teves and his sons.
“Naninindigan po ang CIDG the may hawak silang matibay na ebidensya para patunayan ang pagkakasangkot ng mga nasabing akusado,” she added.
(The CIDG maintains that it has strong evidence to prove the involvement of the respondents.)
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla had said Teves already left the United States and was “somewhere in Asia.”
Teves recently asked the House leadership to grant him a two-month leave of absence, citing a "very grave security threat to his life and his family."
Speaker Martin Romualdez, however, urged Teves to reconsider his decision not to return to the country since "it does not sit well for a House Member to flee the country rather than avail himself of all the legal remedies available to him." —Jamil Santos and Richa Noriega/KG/VBL, GMA Integrated News