EDITORIAL - Arnie, come home

The Philippine Star

Whether he likes it or not, Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. is now seen by many as a wanted man. So far, no arrest warrant has been issued for him in connection with any crime, but the congressman now faces charges in court for three counts of murder committed in 2019.

Teves also faces criminal indictment on gun charges together with two of his sons, Kurt Matthew and Axel, for the guns, grenades and ammunition confiscated during searches on their properties in Bayawan City where Teves’ brother Pryde Henry served as mayor until last year when he ran for governor against Roel Degamo.

The government is now considering seeking a lookout bulletin for the congressman. His colleagues in the House of Representatives, dismayed that he ignored a 24-hour ultimatum given for him to return to work because his travel authorization was good only until March 9, overwhelmingly voted last night to suspend him for 60 days “for disorderly conduct.”

Claiming threats to his life, Teves has refused to even make public his whereabouts. He obtained a travel authority from the House to get stem cell treatment in the United States. While he was abroad, his family’s political rival, Degamo, was shot dead in Pamplona town together with eight others.

President Marcos, commenting on the issue for the first time yesterday, said he was not aware of any threat to Teves’ safety, but reassured the congressman that he would get protection if he returns home. The President noted that Teves, who is wealthy enough to own a private jet, could land anywhere he chooses in the country including at Basa Air Force base in Floridablanca, Pampanga. The longer Teves stays away, the more difficult his situation would be, the President pointed out.

If Teves continues to stay away, the President warned that “we will have to move without any discussions with him.” He also disputed Teves’ claim that the congressman’s rivals in online cockfights or e-sabong were part of a conspiracy to get him in trouble. Teves’ current woes, the President said, had nothing to do with e-sabong, but were about Degamo’s brazen assassination.

Suspects in the murder have pointed to a “Congressman Teves” as the mastermind. Teves has denied involvement in the massacre of Degamo and eight others right in the governor’s home in Pamplona town on March 4. The best way for Teves to prove his innocence is to come home, explain his side and face any charges squarely. In this country, if you’re worried about armed violence, you shouldn’t enter politics, or for that matter, e-sabong.

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