Negros solon asks for more time abroad; Come home, Speaker tells him
Police on Friday raided houses belonging to Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., who has been charged for three murders in 2019, and who has been linked to the March 4 assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.
Teves’ lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, and Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. confirmed in separate interviews the reports of the police raids.
“It’s not yet clear to us who or what they are looking for,” Topacio said.
Topacio confirmed the CIDG served search warrants on five houses. He said he has yet to talk to his client, who was in the United States.
He said unverified reports said the raids were in connection with unlicensed firearms purportedly belonging to Teves. However, he said all firearms of the lawmaker were properly surrendered to proper precincts in accordance with the implementing rules and regulations on licensing and possession of firearms.
“Most of them were surrendered a month ago, I believe. The rest were surrendered recently,” he said.
On Thursday, suspects in the killing of Degamo tagged “Cong Teves” as the mastermind behind the assassination.
The suspects said the person who hired them financed and served as themastermind behind the group that carried out the attack on Degamo. Eight other people died in the attack.
Rep. Teves is also facing three murder charges for his alleged involvement in the killing of Negros Oriental Board Member Miguel Dungog and two others in 2019.
The Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Special Action Force, together with the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, reported finding several firearms, ammunition, and a hand grenade in their raids. They had licenses, which needed verification.
The Negros Oriental Police Office also announced on Friday that all permits to carry firearms outside of residence in the province have been suspended, with the exemption of the police, military, and other law enforcement agencies performing official duties.
This was connected to the hunt for the suspects in the assassination of Degamo.
Remulla said the criminal complaint against Teves in connection with the killings in 2019 would undergo due process.
“I think that a lot of other people are coming out with information about past cases but we have to process them properly. We have to look at the evidence. We have to look at the statements. We will look at them one by one,” he said.
He noted that it is mere speculation for now that the 2019 killings are related to online cockfighting.
Remulla recalled Degamo visiting him while his electoral protest was still pending.
“He was already complaining about the violence in Negros, but it was a general statement. There were no specifics,” he said.
Teves has denied that he and his brother, Henry Pryde, whom Degamo unseated, had something to do with the governor’s slay.
Teves has yet to return from his personal trip to the United States, which was supposed to end March 9, according to the travel clearance he received from the House of Representatives.
Speaker Martin G. Romualdez on Friday advised Teves to return and face the allegations against him.
“I advise Representative Arnie Teves to come back to the country assoon as possible,” Romualdez said as the House rejected his request for an extension to his expired travel clearance.
House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said the request was rejected because it lacked details, such as the country he was going to.
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the
Philippines on Friday said a joint task force was deployed in Negros Oriental to tighten security and reinforce the hot pursuit operation against the remaining suspects involved in the fatal attack on Degamo.
In a press briefing, AFP Chief Gen. Andres Centino said two brigades and six battalions of the Philippine Army were installed in the area with the addition of a 50-man light reaction company from Cotabato to track the suspects at large.
Centino said the troops were already stationed in the region—threebattalions in northern Negros, and another three in the southern part of the island.
At the same time, the AFP called for transition programs for its discharged personnel who have “dangerous skills that could be used for crimes.” Three of the suspects arrested for Degamo’s murder were former soldiers.
“We have taught these people the skill that is very dangerous if usedin crimes or in lawlessness. So I think it is also our responsibility to make sure this skill sets that they have learned will not be used against our own people,” AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar told the ANC news channel.
The assassination of Degamo shocked the whole country as fully-armedmen charged into the residence of the governor before opening fire on Degamo, who was handing out assistance to poor families.
The killing of Degamo is part of a growing number of attacks on local elective officials since the start of 2023.
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