The complaints for illegal possession of firearms and explosives filed against suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. is enough to designate him as a terrorist, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Thursday.
In an ambush interview at the New Bilibid Prison, Remulla said the lack of a murder complaint against Teves will not cause conflict with the department’s plan to designate him a terrorist.
“Hindi naman. Hindi naman. That’s not [a] conflict at all,” he said.
When asked if the illegal possession complaints filed against the lawmaker is enough, Remulla said, “Yes, yes.”
GMA News Online reached out to Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel of Teves, for comment but has yet to receive a reply as of posting time.
According to Remulla, they have started the preliminary steps in proscribing the suspended congressman as a terrorist.
“Gumagalaw na, gumagalaw na. We’re moving on it. We’re starting the preliminary motion— movements. ‘Yung mga kailangan kausapin kinakausap na,” Remulla said.
(It’s moving. It’s moving. We’re moving on it. We’re starting the preliminary motion— movements. We are talking to the ones we need to talk to.)
In a separate interview on Balitanghali, however, Teves argued that he does not fit into the description of a terrorist under the Anti-Terror Law.
“Pag gumawa ka ng batas, there is an intention for the law. Ginawa 'yun para sa extremist groups. So paano ako napasok doon kung hindi naman ako grupo, tao lang ako,” he said.
(If you make a law, there is an intention for the law. The law was made for extremist groups. How am I included there? I am only one person.)
“Isa pa, wala pa nga akong kasalanan na may pruweba. Sabay ngayon gagawin na nila akong terorista? Ginagamit na nila ‘yung batas para mapilitan nila akong mapauwi at mapatay,” he added.
(Another thing, they have no evidence against me. But now they’re declaring me a terrorist? They are using the law to force me to go home and be killed.)
The congressman, who has been tagged as the alleged mastermind behind the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others, has yet to return to the country due to concerns about his safety.
Cambodia, South Korea
According to Remulla, Teves is going back and forth between South Korea and Cambodia.
“I think reliable ‘yung information ni Senator… Villanueva, nasa Korea. Pero paganon— babalik-balik siya ng Cambodia, eh,” he said.
(I think Senator Villanueva’s information that Teves is in Korea is reliable. But he goes back and forth to Cambodia.)
During a Senate hearing, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said his friends saw Teves in a hotel in South Korea eating at a buffet.
When asked to confirm, Teves declined to comment, saying, “It’s for me to know and for them to find out.”
Indication of guilt
Meanwhile, when sought for comment on Teves saying he might consider going home if he senses fairness, Remulla only reiterated that flight is an indication of guilt.
“Ang tao kasing guilty, iiwas talaga ‘yan. Kahit ano pa sabihin niya, humarap siya. Kung wala siyang kasalanan, humarap siya,” Remulla said.
(A person who is guilty will really try to steer clear. Whatever he may say, he should do it here. If he is not guilty, he should face it.)
He also dismissed Teves's remarks that there were two government officials who wanted him dead, saying it was “nonsense.”
“Wala ‘yun. Kalokohan ‘yun. Kalokohan ‘yun. Ang namatay sa Negros, siyam. Sabi niya nakakatawa daw ‘yung ginagawa namin. Ano nakakatawa doon? Nakakatawa ba ‘yung namamatay na siyam na tao tapos nasasaktan ‘yung 17 pa dahil sa isang utos,” he said.
(That’s not true. That’s nonsense. It’s nonsense. Nine people were killed in Negros. He said it was funny, what we were doing was funny. What is funny about that? Are the death of nine people and the injuries of 17 others because of a single order funny?)
Remulla was referring to Teves' statement that he found funny the possibility of being tagged as a terrorist.
The Justice secretary, meanwhile, declined to comment on Teves mentioning the acquittal of his son, Juanito Remulla III, of illegal drug possession charges.
“No reaction. Ano ‘yan. ‘Yung mga tao nga na may tinataago, ayaw humarap. Ano ‘yan eh, flight is an indication of guilt,” he said.
(No reaction. People who have something to hide will not face it. Flight is an indication of guilt.
Degamo and eight others were killed while several others were injured after an attack at the governor's home in Negros Oriental on March 4 while distributing aid to his constituents.—AOL, GMA Integrated News