Come home, face raps
BY EUGENE Y. ADIONG AND FRANCO JOSE C. BAROÑA
The Manila Times
BACOLOD CITY: Former Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves has called on his older brother, suspended Rep. Arnolfo ”Arnie” Teves Jr., to return to the Philippines and face the charges that government prosecutors had fiLED AGAINST HIM. In a news conference on Monday, Henry said his sentiments are shared by his family. “While I cannot decide for him, we are of the opinion, and we are hoping that he will really decide to come home,” the younger Teves said. He admitted that his family had been greatly affected by allegations that the embattled lawmaker was involved in the murder of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo. “If it’s the President himself who guarantees his safety, I think he will be safe enough. Maybe to stop all this and shed light on everything, maybe it’s about time he comes home,” Henry said. “One way or another, he would have to face all of this. And he has to come home,” he pointed out. Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla had said the congressman is considered among the masterminds in Degamo’s killing. The House of Representatives suspended the lawmaker for 60 days for his continued absence from work after his travel authority lapsed last March 9. Meanwhile, Representative Teves said he will not comment on charges that he faces after weapons and explosives were recovered inside the Tolong Sugar Mill Corp. located in Caranoche, Sta. Catalina town, which his family supposedly owns. “It’s better to answer officially when there’s an official paper that says you are being charged with something,” the congressman added. He earlier said he was willing to cooperate with authorities. The lawmaker is said to be currently in the United States for medical reasons. The younger Teves served as governor of Negros Oriental from June 30, 2022 until Degamo unseated him in October last year after a recount of votes from the May 2022 gubernatorial race. Operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) recovered an assault rifle and hundreds of live ammunition on the fourth day of their search at the sugar mill. Among the items seized in the latest search were a Steyr AUG bullpup assault rifle, magazines, and more than 1,600 rounds of live ammunition for assorted weapons along with 43 fired cartridges. Since Friday, March 24, the CIDG, by virtue of a search warrant issued by a regional trial court in Mandaue City, has been searching the compound of the Tolong Sugar Mill Corp. In previous days, various highpowered firearms, explosives and stacks of cash worth more than P18 million were also seized. A rocket-powered grenade and some improvised explosive devices were also found in an underground stash about 10 feet deep. Authorities arrested three members of the congressman’s security detail during the raid after unlicensed firearms were allegedly found in their possession. Some of the weapons, along with three suspects, were flown to Manila on Sunday, March 26. On Tuesday, Remulla said all the suspects in Degamo’s shooting stayed in a place provided by the lawmaker prior to the March 4 assassination of the governor. “It was a place controlled by the Teves family where these armed men (the suspects) were staying,” Remulla added, referring to the house that was raided by authorities on Sunday, March 26, and believed to be where the suspects planned the shooting of Degamo. “They were given jobs. They were already being asked to do things for the Teves’ kin and directing [them] to one of his (Representative Teves) most trusted men. When you use a place that definitely belongs to somebody who is being pinpointed as the mastermind, that is definitely a link,” the Justice chief said. Raids conducted by authorities on March 26, in Bayawan City and Negros Oriental on pieces of property occupied by two identified conspirators behind the assassination yielded assorted firearms and explosives, pictures of the slain governor, and a sketch and a picture of a building believed to have been used in the planning of the murder. Another search warrant was implemented against Nigel Electono in Amparos Village, Gravador Residence in Barangay Villareal in Negros Oriental. The search led to the seizure of firearms, ammunition, explosives, pictures of Degamo and his family, maps and pictures of the gate of the residence of the governor believed to have been used during the planning stage of the assassination. Electono is the chief security officer at the sugar mill and was one of those arrested during the implementation of the search warrant at the compound last March 24. Remulla said Representative Teves can now be considered a fugitive even if he is yet to be charged in the killing of Degamo and eight other individuals. “If you are suspected to have committed a crime, you are already considered a fugitive if you do not show up. Actions speak louder than words,” he added.