Negros killings

Romualdez to Arnie Teves: Return to PH ‘as soon as possible’

Jairo Bolledo

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Romualdez to Arnie Teves: Return to PH ‘as soon as possible’
Negros Oriental lawmaker Arnie Teves is facing a multiple murder complaint over 2019 killings in Negros Oriental

MANILA, Philippines – Following the allegations hounding Negros Oriental Third District Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., House Speaker Martin Romualdez released a statement, urging the lawmaker to return to the country immediately.

“I advise Rep. Arnie Teves to come back to the country as soon as possible. His authority to travel to the United States is covered only by the period February 28 to March 9, 2023,” Romualdez said in a statement on Friday, March 10.

“Clearly, the TA of Rep. Teves has expired effective today. His travel outside the country beyond the period mentioned is no longer authorized by the House of Representatives.”

Based on the copy of Teves’ travel clearance, the Negros Oriental lawmaker was in the United States from February 28 to March 9, 2023 for “personal trip.” Despite the expiration of his travel authority, the lawmaker has yet to announce his return to the country, as of Friday.

In his statement, Romualdez said Teves should return to face the accusations against him.

Makabubuti rin na umuwi si Cong. Arnie para harapin ang pagkakadawit ng pangalan ng kanilang pamilya sa pagkamatay ni Gov. Roel Degamo. We all want to hear his side of the story. Maraming buhay ang nawala maliban kay Gov. Degamo.”

(It will be better if Congressman Arnie returns to face the allegations against him in relation to Governor Roel Degamo’s death. We all want to hear his side of the story. Many lives were lost, aside from Governor Degamo’s.)

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, Teves’ legal counsel, said in an interview with DZBB on Friday that his client went overseas for medical reasons and their camp is coordinating with the lawmaker for his return. Topacio added Teves will not hide and will face the complaints filed against him.

Teves is facing a multiple murder complaint in relation to at least three killings that occurred in Negros Oriental in 2019. The lawmaker was implicated in the death of former Negros Oriental board member Miguel Dungog, who was shot in front of the Silliman Medical Center on March 25, 2019.

On Friday, personnel of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided Teves’ properties in Negros Oriental because of the alleged presence of illegal firearms. Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the raid related to Teves’ alleged involvement in the 2019 killings.

Degamo, Negros Oriental’s long-time governor, was brutally killed by armed assailants just outside his family’s compound last Saturday. A few hours after the assassination, the suspects – some of whom are former military members – were arrested in Bayawan City.

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Two days after Degamo’s killing, Teves broke his silence and said he expected to be blamed for the crimes. He added his clan does not benefit from the governor’s passing. One of the suspects, Joric Labrador, said in a report by GMA News on that a certain “Congressman Teves” ordered the governor’s killing.

Teves’ brother, Pryde Henry, was stripped of his short-lived governorship after the Commission on Elections and the Supreme Court upheld the victory of Degamo in the 2022 Negros Oriental gubernatorial race. Degamo was slain only 19 days after he secured his victory against Pryde Henry at the High Court. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.