The Department of Justice will seek the designation and proscription of suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. as terrorist to force him to surrender to authorities, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told a Senate hearing on Monday.
“As a solution to the impasse here about the surrender of Mr. Teves, we are looking at designating him or proscribing him as a terrorist, to have him proscribed by the Court of Appeals and designated by the Anti-Terrorism Council because of the acts that happened,” Remulla said during the Senate committee investigation into the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, to which Teves is being linked to.
“Because the other persons are in custody already, so there’s no more need [for their designation], but as far as Mr. Teves is concerned, Congressman Teves, we may need for him to be designated and proscribed,” Remulla added.
The Justice secretary made the remark after Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva asked what pieces of evidence are needed to establish that an indivdual has committed an act of terrorism under Section 25 of the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Remulla said that all the activites that led to the March 4 killing of Degamo are all covered under the Anti-Terrororism Law, specifically the recruitment, the financing, the purchase of firearms, and the distribution of firearms.
“Everything that transpired…actually has the hallmarks of terrorism in it. However, when cases were filed individually, we could not file an anti-terror case immediately…because it takes a lot of legal theory and a lot of research to prove a terrorism case and we are afraid right now that if we imemdiately file a terrorism case based on the crimes that transpired, it may prejudice other convictions that may be secured easily with the same punishment for murder, for multiple murder,” he said.
“That is really the intent, [which] is really to look into these acts that transpired and the proscription and the designation to be our goal further down the road because if the person will not surrender, then we will have to make the world smaller for him,” Remulla added.
Remulla further said the DOJ found the Anti-Terrorism Law to be the “most applicable in this case” for a person who has not surrendered.
“I think we are on the way there already,” he said.
Remulla earler said that Teves appears to be the main mastermind in the killing of Degamo.
GMA News Online has reached out to Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Teves' legal counsel, for his comment regarding the possible terrorist tag on his client, but he has yet to respond as of posting time.
Earlier during the hearing, the Senate committee “unanimously” agreed not to allow Teves to attend the panel’s investigation, citing lack of jurisdiction and inter-parliamentary courtesy.
Before the panel officially started the investigation, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who was leading the investigation, said the members of the committee conducted an executive session to discuss the appeal of Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, widow of the slain governor, asking the senators not to allow “fugitive” Teves to participate via video teleconferencing.
While they decided not to allow Teves to appear virtually, Dela Rosa said the committee is not “shutting its doors” to Teves and he can attend the hearing physically to air his side on the issues. —KBK, GMA Integrated News