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Arnie Teves made requests for assurance of safe return – lawyer

The lawyer of suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr. said on Saturday that his client has made certain requests to ensure his safe return to the country after being linked to the killing of Governor Roel Degamo.

“I had two interactions with [House] Speaker [Martin] Romualdez, of course the details I cannot divulge because of our gentleman’s agreement. But si congressman made certain requests for his return in order to ensure his safety,” Atty. Ferdinand Topacio said at a media forum.

“Ang hiniling lang po niya ay ‘yung requests niya para sa kaniyang kaligtasan. Hindi po for any special treatment, wala pong bargaining dito. Just for his safety,” Topacio added.

(He appeals that his requests be granted for his safety. This is neither for any special treatment nor a bargaining expedition. Just for his safety.)

Topacio thanked Romualdez for granting some of Teves’ requests.

“Hindi naman niya kami binola. Sinabi niya ‘Itong mga request na ito, pwede nating gawin. Itong mga request na ito ay hindi natin pwedeng gawin,’” he said.

(He did not mislead us. He said "We can do these requests. We cannot do these requests.")

Because of this, Topacio said Teves could not yet return to the country.

Responding to comments made by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla that the Degamo slay case is 99% solved, Topacio said it was premature.

“With all due respect to our good friend Secretary Remulla who said it was ‘99% solved.’ It is never 99%, 100%, 70%, 50% solved at this stage, masyadong maaga (it is too early),” he said.

“Until and unless there is a preliminary investigation, a case is brought to court, there is a trial and the accused is convicted by final judgement, hindi solved ‘yan (it is not solved),” Topacio added. “These statements do not help.”

Topacio had said that certain indications led him to believe that proceedings in the preliminary investigation into the Degamo slay case could turn into a kangaroo court

“Let's go through the process, hindi kami humihingi ng special treatment. Pero sana patas lang walang bias, walang prejudice. Paano magfa-finding ng no probable cause yung piskal, sinabi na ng big boss na solved na, si Teves ang mastermind?” Topacio said in Dano Tingcungco’s “24 Oras Weekend” on Saturday.

(Let's go through the process. We are not asking for special treatment. But I hope it's fair, without bias or prejudice. How will the prosecutor find no probable cause when the big boss has already said that it has been resolved and that Teves is the mastermind?)

Teves is still not keen on returning to the country, according to Topacio, who claimed to have spoken to the lawmaker on Friday. 

Teves' lawyers said police forced the arrested suspects for illegal possession of firearms and explosives to tag the lawmaker.

“May isang witness kami na kinunan ng statement. Hindi siya kasama sa search warrant pero kinukuha siya ng mga pulis, three times kinukuha siya, pinipilit siya magsabi na dapat aminin mo yung mga may ari ng baril na inilibing dito ay kay Congressman Arnie Teves. Sasabihin pa nila na dapat umamin ka, sila ang nagpalibing ng armas dito,” Atty. Rose Erames, lawyer of Teves, said.

(We have a witness whose statement was taken. He was not included in the search warrant, but the police tried to get him three times, forcing him to admit that the owners of the guns that were buried here belonged to Congressman Arnie Teves. Police forced him to admit that the Teveses instructed them to bury the weapons.)

GMA Integrated News is still getting comments from Remulla, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos, and the Philippine National Police (PNP). —with Richa Noriega/LBG/VBL, GMA Integrated News