DOJ: Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. still not a fugitive despite ‘terrorist’ tag
MANILA, Philippines — Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. is still not a fugitive despite being labeled a “terrorist” by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).
The Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified in a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon that no warrant of arrest has been issued yet against the beleaguered congressman for him to be considered an outlaw or a person running from the law.
“[Teves] is not considered a fugitive, as this is separate and distinct from a criminal action. It is only when you are issued a warrant of arrest that you become a fugitive or your status becomes a fugitive,” said DOJ spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano.
“Right now, he is a terrorist, but that’s as far as he goes,” Clavano added.
Teves and his brother Pryde Henry Teves, as well as 11 others, were designated as terrorists by the ATC through Resolution No. 63 dated July 26 but released to the public on August 1.
The ATC said they were labeled terrorists for being allegedly involved in the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and other political killings in the province. It also noted that these people are allegedly part of the supposed “terrorist group” of the congressman.
The terrorist tag would also allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to freeze their assets automatically.
“The [AMLC’s] issuance of a freeze order is based under the ATA (Anti-Terror Act) Section 25 in relation to Section 36. So upon the designation of an individual or an organization, it is ministerial on the part of the AMLC, to issue an ex parte order to freeze without delay the assets of the subjects in this case,” AMLC’s Atty. Luis Warren explained in the same press conference.
Clavano, meanwhile, declined to give specific information when asked about the government’s next step against Teves now that he is already designated a terrorist by the ATC.
DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla previously explained that the designation of Teves as a terrorist would help facilitate the congressman’s arrest.
His current whereabouts remain unknown but the UN member states will be compelled to surrender Teves as a fugitive under the “duty of rendition” when spotted in their countries, according to Remulla.
“The next steps will have to be taken deliberately and purposefully. We will respectfully decline to answer what our next steps are going to be so as not to telegraph exactly the next moves of the government,” Clavano said. With reports from Lei Ivana, INQUIRER.net