MANILA, Philippines — Despite the absence of an arrest warrant, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Tuesday said that Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. is already considered a fugitive for being suspected of committing a crime.
This came in response to Teves’ legal counsel’s claim that the lawmaker is not a fugitive since the government has yet to issue a warrant of arrest against him.
“When one is suspected of having committed a crime, he is already considered a fugitive; he just did not show up,” said Remulla in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Headstart.
“The actions would speak louder than words. It’s that he is not showing up, that he is evading us, or trying to evade the law,” he added.
It can be recalled that Remulla on Monday said that Teves — who is currently in the US for medical treatment — is “being considered” as one of the masterminds in the March 4 killing of Gov. Roel Degamo and eight others.
Several criminal complaints have also been filed against Teves, including multiple murder complaints over killings in 2019, and the illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
READ: PNP: More cases filed vs Rep. Teves, sons due to illegal guns possession
When asked why an arrest warrant has yet to be issued against Teves, Remulla said that it is because of due process.
“We want to push the process, but we’re talking about human rights and due process, that is how the law works, we have to respect the due process of law, whether how slow it is,” Remulla explained.
“Unless in hot pursuit, we cannot arrest a person, we have to give him the light of day in court, or in the preliminary investigation,” he added.
Before this, several lawmakers, the Philippine National Police, and Remulla had repeatedly urged Teves to return to the Philippines and face the allegations against him.
Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez even pointed out that Teves’ authority to travel to the United States was only valid from February 28 to March 9.
But Teves insisted that he would only return to the country once the safety of his life and his family had been ensured.
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