Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla disclosed on Wednesday that the latest whereabouts of Teves was part of the briefing he received the other day, saying that the government has assigned people to track the lawmakers.

“As far as I know he is [now] in [Southeast] Asia. That’s the information I received. That’s the briefing I received yesterday,” added Remulla in a radio interview.

According to Remulla, it is important that Teves should come and face the charges as everything now that is happening is going in his direction.

“Basta umuwi siya. Ang mahalaga umuwi siya (He should come home. What is important is for him to return) and face the charges. Kasi parang dun po papunta ngayon ang kalahatang ito (Because it seems that everything is going towards him). Iniiwasan natin sabihin to sa umpisa pero mukhang dun na papunta po talaga (We evaded saying this at the start but it seem everything is going towards him),” Remulla further said.

Teves was in the US when Degamo was attacked by heavily armed men inside the compound of his residence. He denied any involvement in the incident.

Teves, through his counsel, said that he was adamant against coming home because he fears for his life and that of his family.

But Remulla also assured Teves that if decides to return to the country, he and his family would be fully secured by government forces like the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation, among others.

“All he has to do is to request [us for security],” Remulla said, adding that what is important is for Teves to return home and face the charges against him.

According to Remulla, he and Teves know each other but have no direct contact with the lawmaker although they have a lot of mutual friends.

Remulla also disclosed that after Degamo’s burial, authorities would be talking to more people who hold vital information, saying that based on the update he received, there were still 17 more cases related to Teves that needed to be investigated

He added that there was also a request to change the prosecutors in Negros Oriental because of some complaints relative to past incidents in the province.

The Supreme Court (SC) has granted the request of Remulla to transfer all the cases filed and soon to be filed in connection with the killing of Degamo and eight others to the Regional Trial Court of Manila.

In seeking the transfer of these cases, Remulla cited, among others, the possible intimidation and harassment of the respondents, private complainants, and their witnesses considering that three of the victims are government officials.

Furthermore, he said, tension is high in Negros Oriental because of the stature of the personalities involved in the case.

Remulla pointed out that it would be more logical to hold the trial in Manila considering that the respondents are now detained at the custodial center of the NBI headquarters. — William B. Depasupil