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Marcos says there’s no threat vs. Arnie Teves

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said Wednesday there is no threat against Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves, who is being linked to the slay of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

“Ang sinasabi niya may banta daw sa buhay niya. Kami naman, the best intelligence we have is that we don’t know of any threat. Saan mangggaling ‘yung threat?” Marcos told reporters.

(He is saying there is a threat to his life. On our part, the best intelligence we have is that we don’t know of any threat. Where will the threat come from?)

According to the President, he does not have any direct contact with Teves, adding that the latter speaks to House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

He urged Teves to return to the country the soonest possible time.

"The only advice I can give to Cong. Arnie is that habang tumatagal ito, mas nagiging mahirap ang sitwasyon. So mas maaga kang makauwi mas marami pang option ang mangyayari pero kapag masyadong nang late, mapipilitan na ang gobyerno. We have to move without any discussions with you," he added.

(The only advice I can give to Cong. Arnie is that your situation will become harder if this drags on.  There are a lot of options for you if you will return at the earliest possible time. However, the government might be forced to do something if it drags on. We have to move without any discussions with you.)

The President promised the safety of the lawmaker once he decides to return to the Philippines.

“Mayaman ka naman, may private jet ka naman eh, maglanding ka kung san mo gusto. Sa Air Force base, maglanding ka sa Basa, papaligiran natin ng sundalo, walang makalapit ng isang kilometro,” he said.

(You are rich, you have a private jet, you can land wherever you want. You can land in an Air Force base, in Basa, the soldiers will secure you, no one will be allowed near you.)

"So we have made all of these offers pero siyempre hindi pa siya nagdedecide (he is yet to decide)," he further said.

Marcos also denied the claim of Teves that he is being implicated in the killing of Degamo due to e-sabong.

“Ang puno’t dulo nito ay e-sabong? Hindi. Ang puno’t dulo nito ay pagkapaslang kay Governor Degamo,” he said.

(This is because of e-sabong? No. This stemmed from the killing of Governor Degamo.)

"Nagkaproblema na kami sa e-sabong noon. But that’s not what this is about. Because noong nagkakaroon ng e-sabong doon, hindi naman natin ginawa itong reorganization, hindi natin nilipat ‘yung mga pulis, hindi natin pinasok ang military dahil sa e-sabong. This is about the killing of Governor Degamo. Pure and simple," he stressed.

(We had a problem on e-sabong before. But that's not what this is about. We did not implement a reorganization, we did not transfer the cops, we did not involve the military because of e-sabong.)

Teves asks to speak to Marcos

Teves on Wednesday asked that he be allowed to speak to Marcos amid the pending murder and illegal possession of firearms complaints filed against him.

“Gusto ko sana kayo makausap para makapagexplain ako sa inyo. Baka tawagan ko, baka puede kay Boss Anton, para makausap ko po kayo, Mr. President,” Teves said in a Facebook live.

(I hope I can talk to you, Mr. President. Maybe thru boss [Special Assistant to the President] Anton [Lagdameo],” Teves said.

“Again, nirerespeto ko po kayo. Sana lang mapagbigyan niyo ako na makapagusap tayo. Kung kayo na ang humiling na umuwi ako, mas mahihirapan ako na humindi dahil mas may authority kayo makabigay ng proteksyon sa akin,” he added.

(I respect you, and I hope you can give me a shot. If you will be the one to ask me to come home, it would be hard for me to refuse because you have the authority to provide me protection.)

Teves insisted that the government was not pursuing him due to the March 4 assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, but because there were people in the government who wanted him jailed on false charges.

He was referring to what he said in a January 12 press conference wherein he said Interior and Local Government chief Benhur Abalos planned to order a raid on his house and plant evidence against him. 

“Hindi ito tungkol sa murder, Mr. President, kasi January 11 pa lang may operation na ang mga nandiyan sa gobyerno laban sa akin. At iyon nga ang nangyari. Iyon talaga ang kinakatakot ko kaya hindi ako umuuwi,” Teves said.

(This is not about murder, Mr. President, because there are government operatives who have been on to me since January 11. What I said happened, and that is what I am afraid of, which is why I am not coming home.)

“Nanawagan na ako sa inyo. Nanawagan na ako as early as January 11, baka hindi lang nakarating,” Teves added.

‘Marcos may not be privy’

In a separate ambush interview, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Teves’ lawyer, said they respect the statement of the President, but added that they would prefer to err on the side of caution.

“Baka hindi siya privy to certain intelligence or may possibility — alam ninyo minsan, ha, hindi ko sinasabing nangyari ito kay Pangulong Marcos — pero minsan may tinatawag 'yang cordon sanitaire na napi-filter 'yung impormasyon na dumadating sa kanya,” he said.

(Maybe he is not privy to certain intelligence or there is a possibility — I’m not saying this happened to President Marcos — but sometimes there is the so-called cordon sanitaire where the information he received had been filtered.)

Topacio said this is why Teves asked Marcos to look at all angles and to have alternative sources of intelligence.

Asked if the President’s call will be a big factor in Teves reconsidering his decision to return to the country, Topacio said “of course.”

“He is weighing all the pros and cons. But you have to undertand, this is a matter of life and death. At ang sinasabi nga niya sa akin, si Degamo nga, military pa ‘yung nagse-secure, 'yung mga pulis biglang nawala,” he said.

Topacio further said that Teves will know what to do with the President’s call being a veteran politician.

He said he will talk about this with Teves.

“Presidente naman ay 'yun ay isang executive action 'yung kanyang sinabi and I think Congressman Teves of all people, he’s a veteran politician, he would know what to do with that call of the President,” he said.

On Tuesday, Teves said he would not return home yet due to fears over his safety as he also appealed for authorities’ “fairness” and for them to look at all angles in the killing of Degamo.

Two arrested suspects, Joric Labrador and Benjie Rodriguez, earlier said a certain “Cong Teves” ordered the hit on Degamo, who was killed at his residence in Pamplona town on March 4.

Teves already denied that he and his brother Henry were involved in the killing of Degamo amid allegations that the crime was politically motivated.

The Teveses are political rivals of the Degamo family.—with Joahna Lei Casilao/AOL/NB, GMA Integrated News