MANILA, Philippines — Despite requests from his family and even President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself, a lawyer of suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. said the representative will not come home from abroad until the government grants “certain requests” regarding his security.
Teves’ lawyer Ferdinand Topacio refused to disclose details of the requests Teves made to Speaker Martin Romualdez and only said they wanted to explain to the speaker “the complete situation with respect to the security concerns of Teves.”
“[The Speaker] did not mislead us. He said, ‘We can do these requests. We cannot do these requests.’ With that Rep. Teves could not come home yet,” he said in a news forum in Quezon City on Saturday.
Teves’ lawyers said they were “not yet satisfied” that Marcos himself offered protection to the representative, who has been suspended because of his lengthy absence while Congress is in session.
“We thank the president for his concern. But the reality of the situation is that he cannot micromanage the situation,” Topacio noted. “We are not seeking special treatment, we are just ensuring his safety.”
Teves has not returned to the country since he left for the United States for medical treatment on Feb. 28, with his travel authority from the House of Representatives having already expired on March 9.
His colleagues in the House voted to suspend him for 60 days citing “disorderly behavior” for refusing to return home and perform his duties as a lawmaker.
Both Marcos and PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. were clueless on the threats raised by Teves, but assured him the administration will offer him protection if he returns to refute allegations that he was involved in the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and eight of his supporters on March 4.
Degamo was shot dead by several men at his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental, while he was distributing government aid supporters.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier tagged Teves as among the masterminds of the killing that supposedly involved around 10 former soldiers, who are now in police custody.
On Friday, Remulla announced that another “main player” in the Degamo slay was arrested, saying the case was already “99 percent solved.”
Topacio, however, disputed Remulla’s announcement and said “it is never 99 percent, 100 percent, 70 percent, 50 percent solved at this stage. Is too early to say that.”
“Until and unless there is a preliminary investigation, a case is brought to court, there is a trial and the accused is convicted by final judgment, it is not solved. These statements [made by Remulla] do not help,” Topacio said.
3 counts of murder
Teves was not yet named as among the respondents of the murder, frustrated murder, and attempted murder complaints pending before the Department of Justice in connection with the March 4 assassination.
Teves, however, was named respondent in different criminal cases filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, including a separate three counts of murder complaint filed by the police in connection with the 2019 killings of at least three people, including Degamo’s political ally.
Teves and his two sons, Kurt Matthew and Axel, were also named respondents in complaints for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and nonbailable illegal possession of explosives, following the March 10 raids in his properties in Basay town and Bayawan City, both in Negros Oriental province.