Government tracking Teves’ travel

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - The Philippine Star
Government tracking Teves� travel
This screengrab shows Rep. Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr. (Negros Oriental).
Congressman Arnie A. Teves / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo in a mass killing at his residence in Pamplona town last March 4 is a case which the Philippine National Police (PNP) is coordinating not just with other government agencies, but also with international counterparts.

“We must remember that this is not just a simple case. It involves the deaths of nine individuals, including governor Degamo, so the whole force of the government is coordinating (in solving the crime),” Col. Jean Fajardo, PNP spokesperson, told reporters yesterday.

At the Department of Justice, spokesman Mico Clavano confirmed that they have taken “concrete steps” to issue an international lookout bulletin for Negros Oriental 3rd district Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. and other suspects likely to be charged with the March 4 murders.

Specifically, the DOJ may request this week the issuance of a Blue Notice from the International Police to track the movements of the suspects.

“We’re already discussing placing these people under blue notice – with the Interpol. Because we have blue and red notices. The Red Notice requires an arrest warrant issued by a court, while Blue Notice can be issued against suspects,” explained Clavano.

On Saturday, the DOJ said it was set on issuing an international lookout bulletin for one of the individuals being implicated in the case – congressman Teves who had traveled to the United States and has yet to return home.

Teves left for the US for stem cell treatment on Feb. 28, four days before the attack on Degamo. He was supposed to have already returned to the Philippines, but has instead requested for a two-month extension abroad, which Speaker Martin Romualdez turned down last week.

Authorities believe Teves is no longer in the US but somewhere in Asia, in a place which Fajardo said last Saturday she was not at liberty to disclose.

“Suffice it to say that all agencies of the government are working to encourage Teves to go home and face these cases,” she said, referring to multiple murder and illegal firearms charges related to the killing of three people in 2019 and the cache of guns and ammunition seized from his properties recently.

For his part, Teves has repeatedly released statements that he fears for his and his family’s safety and that while he denies involvement in the bloodbath last March 4, he expects to be “persecuted” and “publicly judged.”

In reply, Fajardo said yesterday: “We are reiterating that, as the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) secretary and the PNP chief said, we are ready to provide security for Teves and his family as soon as he comes home.”

Lookout for Teves

“We have taken precautions and we will take further precautions because the cases are mounting. So, all those that are in relation to the Degamo slay, we have taken concrete steps to release an international lookout bulletin,” Clavano said in a news forum over the weekend.

Likewise, the DOJ will be issuing an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) to prevent the suspects from leaving the country.

Unlike a hold departure order, which is issued by the courts to explicitly bar individuals who have already been indicted from leaving the country, an ILBO directs the Bureau of Immigration to inform the DOJ of any attempts of the individuals in question to leave the country.

Once a person is the subject of an ILBO, he or she would first have to seek a special clearance to be able to leave the country.

In the case of Rep. Teves, the Department of Foreign Affairs can request the country where he is currently staying to deport him.

However, Clavano said they want to exhaust all remedies before considering deportation and urged the congressman to return to the country on his own volition.

“We are not closing the doors to anybody – Congressman Teves is one we’re looking at because as what the President said, the assassination of Gov. Degamo is political. In no uncertain terms, he said that this is political so obviously Gov. Degamo’s rivals would be included, that includes Congressman Arnie Teves. And he is one of those that we are suspecting to be the mastermind behind the Degamo slay,” said Clavano.

“But I just wanted to emphasize that, at the DOJ, we have been fair because it’s likely that the other party will angle this as political persecution. I want to preemptively say that this is not political persecution. The DOJ, under the leadership of Secretary Remulla, has always been and will always be evidence-based. We will only go where our evidence leads us,” he said.

Authorities have already arrested four suspects and are still investigating at least 10 more individuals in connection with the attack that killed Degamo and eight other people, which Central Visayas reports refer to as the Pamplona massacre.

Clavano added that they have a solid case buildup and only need to “close all the little gaps” to build a stronger case against the suspects. – Neil Jayson Servallos

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