The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) seeks to file murder complaints against suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. over the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others by next week, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Thursday.
In an ambush interview, Remulla said the NBI seeks to file murder, multiple murder, and multiple frustrated murder complaints against Teves.
“We’re hoping that the cases will be filed next week. We’re looking at next week as the time for the filing of cases ng NBI dito sa DOJ para madadalhan na natin ng notice ng notice si Congressman Teves sa last known address,” the Justice secretary said.
“So we just give the notice to his last known address para po—at saka place of work papadala yung notice para merong constructive notice na,” he added.
In a message to GMA News Online, Teves’ legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio said that the supposed “trial by publicity” shows that the government’s evidence stands on a shaky legal foundation.
“As always, we are ready and able to defend our client in the level playing field that is the courts of law, where rules of evidence and fair play apply, rather than rumors, innuendo, and grandstanding. In short, bring it on to court,” Topacio said.
Teves, who Remulla had said appears to be the mastermind in the killing, has yet to return to the Philippines due to concerns about his safety.
According to Remulla, the lawmaker is still abroad but said authorities could locate him if needed.
The Justice Secretary previously said Teves had been going back and forth between Cambodia and South Korea, where he was supposedly seen eating in a buffet.
When asked to confirm his whereabouts, Teves has said, “That’s for me to know and for them to find out.” He has also repeatedly denied involvement in the killing of Degamo.
On Wednesday, Remulla said the Department of Justice had started the process for Teves to be designated a terrorist by the Anti-Terrorism Council.
Remulla said a technical working group will be convened in the next few days.
“'Yung technical working group po mag co-convene na ‘yan para to receive the evidence para sa appreciation of facts about the designation of the subject persons as terrorists,” he said.
For his part, Teves has described the move as “funny.”
Meanwhile, when asked to clarify if the tagging of Teves as a terrorist only involves the Degamo killing or other cases of murder in Negros, Remulla said it is part of the pattern that is being established.
“Well, kasama na yan sa pattern na ating ine-establish. Pattern ng criminal activity na ang tao ngayon takot na takot at tinatakot pa at natatakot pa lalo dahil sa pangyayari,” Remulla said.
Remulla also admitted that it will still not be easy to encourage Teves to return to the country even if he is tagged as a terrorist.
“Hindi pa rin ganoon kadali kasi marami talagang pera. Marami talagang pera ang nakuha sa illegal gambling ito,” Remulla said.
“Sabi ko nga sa ibang bansa merong drug lord, dito kasi gambling lord ito. Gambling lord ang ating kalaban dito na nagpatakbo ng illegal sabong, at illegal gamblers games, illegal gambling activities,” he added.
Meanwhile, in his message, Topacio said Remulla and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, among others, seek to weaponize the Anti-Terror Law in desperation.
"It's been almost two months since the killing of Governor Roel Degamo, and a few days thereafter, Secretaries Remulla and Abalos… have been crowing loudly, daily and incessantly about how strong the pieces of evidence are against Congressman Arnie Teves,” he said.
“As a sign of their desperation, they want to weaponize the Anti-Terror Law against Cong. Teves, even if that law was not meant for situations such as the one obtaining in Negros Occidental,” he later added. — BM, GMA Integrated News