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MANILA, Philippines – A Manila court ordered the immediate cancellation of the passport of expelled congressman Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed on Friday, February 9.
The DOJ said it received an order from Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 51, issued Thursday, February 8, canceling Teves’ passport. The former lawmaker, considered a fugitive, is believed to be out of the country.
Teves, who was Negros Oriental 3rd District representative, is the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo in March 2023.
There are two standing warrants against Teves: one for murder, frustrated murder, and attempted murder charges in relation to the death of Degamo and others who were killed in the attack on the governor, and another one over his alleged involvement in the killings that took place in his home province in 2019.
Quoting the order, the DOJ said the Manila court justified the cancellation of Teves’ passport by citing the severity of charges against him, including his designation as a terrorist by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).
The DOJ added that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was already directed to cancel Teves’ passport, while the National Bureau of Investigation was ordered to facilitate Teves’ return to the Philippines.
“This is a clear message that our society demands accountability, and we shall leave no stone unturned to bring alleged perpetrators to book. Our resolve to create a just and fair Philippine society for all is stronger than ever,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said in a statement.
Months after Degamo’s slay, on August 26, 2023, the DOJ announced that charges had already been filed against the former lawmaker.
After Teves was implicated in the assassination, he failed to physically show up during session days at the House of Representatives.
As early as May 2023, the DFA said Teves sought asylum in Timor Leste, but was denied. The ATC ordered Teves’ designation as a terrorist even before the warrants were issued against him.
In a historic first, the legislative’s lower chamber voted to expel Teves as Negros Oriental lawmaker last August. – Rappler.com