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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government designated congressman Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. a terrorist, in a resolution by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) approved on July 26, 2023 and disclosed on Tuesday, August 1.
Teves is the suspected mastermind in the assassination of former Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, who was killed along with nine other people last March 4.
The designation came even before Teves, who is currently suspended from Congress, was arraigned for the massacre in Pamplona town, Negros Oriental.
Also designated as terrorists along with Arnolfo are the following:
- Pryde Henry Teves, former Negros Oriental governor
- Marvin H. Miranda, Teves’ alleged co-mastermind in the Degamo killing
Also included are other suspected gunmen facing murder complaints:
- Rogelio C. Antipolo
- Rommel Pattaguan
- Winrich Asturias
- John Louie Gonyn
- Daheniel Lora
- Eugelio Gonyon Jr.
Three others were also declared terrorists:
- Nigel Electona, a former Negros Oriental policeman
- Jomarie Catubay
- Hannah Mae Sumero Oray
The ATC’s resolution recognized those involved in the attack on Degamo as being part of a terrorist organization, referring to it as the “Teves Terrorist Group.”
“Based on the investigation of various law enforcement agencies, it was established that Cong Teves Jr. and his group has an organizational structure showing a strict command and control mechanism. It shows that Cong. Teves Jr. is the leader and mastermind of the group while Pryde Henry Teves and Nigel Electona among others provide material support,” the ATC resolution read.
“Investigation also reveals that Hannah Mae Sumero Oray handles the operational funds for the killings while Marvin H. Miranda acts as organizer and recruiter of personnel for specific terrorist acts,” it added.
The ATC resolution also tagged Teves as being behind widespread killings in Negros Oriental province.
“The numerous killings and harrassments in Negros Oriental which culminated in the assassination of Gov. Degamo must not be taken as isolated and random incidents of violence. A closer evaluation of these killings and harrassments have an unmistakable pattern of a rather organized and orchestrated action. These killings and harrassments are meticulously and deliberately planned and executed for the purpose of intimidating the residents of Negros Oriental as well as to create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear,” it said.
The resolution echoed the findings of a Senate investigation into the Negros killings. The probe, led by Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa last April, described the violence in the province as a “reign of terror.”
In a statement, the embattled lawmaker’s camp decried the terrorist tag.
“This latest act on the part of the government against our client, Representative Arnolfo Teves, comes as no surprise. Since day one of the Degamo killing, the government has mobilized all the resources at its disposal…all in an obsessive attempt to blame him for a crime at the expense of his Constitutional rights,” said Teves’ legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio.
What does this mean?
Under the anti-terror law, the assets of Teves – and any other massacre suspects designated as terrorists – may be frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Remulla previously said that by designating Teves a terrorist, “the duty of rendition comes in to UN (United Nations) member states.” That duty entails arresting a designated terrorist and turning him or her to the requesting state.
Teves has been out of the country since February and has refused to return to face the multiple murder complaints against him, citing safety concerns.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier reported that Teves was in Timor-Leste last May 2023, where he allegedly sought political asylum.
Teves, through his lawyers, has denied involvement in the Degamo slay multiple times.
Currently, 11 of the suspected gunmen are in the custody of authorities.
Ten of the suspected gunmen have recanted their initial confessions admitting involvement, and tagged Teves as the mastermind. – Rappler.com