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MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday, April 26 said the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has started the process of designating as a terrorist suspended Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnie Teves.
“This morning the Anti-Terrorism Council met already. I made a case already for the designation,” Remulla said at a press briefing.
He said a technical working group would review his department’s brief and recommend action to the Anti-Terror Council.
The designation of Teves falls under his alleged masterminding of the March 4 Pamplona attack that killed then-Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo and eight others.
“I made a case. I told them why,” Remulla added, referring to provisions of Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Remulla made his case during the 20th plenary meeting of the Anti-Terror Council since inception.
Remulla sketched the “simple” logic of his push to designate Teves a terrorist.
“Governor Degamo (was) the highest locally elected official in the whole Negros Oriental. For that person to be killed in his own home by a group of professional soldiers and, of course captured for posterity by the CCTV system, it showed how brazen the crime was,” the justice secretary said.
“If the person with the rank of governor can get killed in his own home, because of forces like this, then who will not be terrorized by such an action?” he added.
“I think that sends the message across, napakaliwanag naman, na kung kaya nilang patayin ang isang nakupong gobernador sa loob ng tahanan nya mismo, ano pa kaya ang taong ordinaryo?” (It’s very clear, if they can kill an incumbent governor inside his home, how much more the ordinary citizen?)
Expressing confidence that the Anti-Terror Council would uphold him, and the government would overcome legal challenges, the Justice Secretary also made a reference to “rendition”.
He said once Teves is tagged for proscription, and the government also files case for terrorism, “the duty of rendition comes in to UN (United Nations) member states.”
UN member states, Remulla said, have the duty of rendition – to arrest a person tagged a terrorist – and turn over said person to the requesting government.
In upholding most of RA 11479, the Supreme Court struck down one provision: the foreign mode of designation, which is adopting a designation made by a foreign jurisdiction.
It is not clear if Remulla means that other states have the duty to do what the Philippine Supreme Court has struck down, or if other states do not have such prohibitions.
The Philippines and many allied states have extradition agreements. But these come under a different law with complex processes to ensure protection of the rights of foreign detainees and fugitive Filipinos hiding abroad.
Remulla said he was able to answer questions raised during the council meeting.
“We’re prepared for legal challenges because there may be people who will want to legally challenge the use of the anti-terror law for this purpose,” he added.
The terrorist designation, he added, would let the Anti-money laundering Council move fast in freezing Teves’ assets, “and the means these assets are moved, or earned, or kept.”
Remulla said at least three other members of what he called the “Teves Criminal Group or Teves Criminal Organization” would also come under the process of designation.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still reviewing the involvement of the congressman’s brother, Pryde Henry.
Pryde, who tried but failed to unseat the slain governor Roel Degamo, owned the sugar mill where many weapons, ammunition, and millions of pesos in cash were recovered during a raid.
Remulla said complaints for for multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder,. and multiple attempted murder will be filed very soon against the congressman.
He said the criminal cases and the terrorist designation are separate but will be pursued at the same time.
“One does not stop the other,” he said. For the terrorist designation process, once the TWG completes its work, it will report to the plenary, which would then vote on recommendations.
Remulla said the court cases “are almost ready.” – Rappler.com