Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos on Saturday welcomed the cancellation of the passport of former Negros Oriental representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., saying that no one can escape justice.
At the sidelines of a cleanup drive in Malabon City, Abalos was asked to comment on the Manila Reginal Trial Court’s (RTC) Branch 51’s order to the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel the passport of Teves.
The court also directed the National Bureau of Investigation to take proper steps for Teves to be brought back to the country.
“Well ganito lang ‘yan. ‘Yung tungkol sa pagkansela ng passport ni Mr. Teves, tandaan niyo ito, walang makakaligtas sa hustisya,” Abalos said.
(Well it’s like this. About the cancellation of the passport of Mr. Teves, remember this: no one can escape justice.)
“Tandaan niyo ‘yan, sooner or later maski saan ka magtago hahanapin ka ng batas at mananagot ka sa mga kasalanan mo at yan ang sinasabi sa ating mga kababayan,” the DILG chief said.
(Remember that sooner or later, no matter where you hide, the law will catch up on you and you will be held liable for your sins, and that’s what we are telling our countrymen.)
According to the Manila RTC, the prosecution established that Teves is a fugitive from justice.
The court noted that when the March 4, 2023 killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and others took place, Teves was in the United States under a travel authority that covered the period from February 9, 2023 to March 9, 2023.
It said that Teves was bound to return to the country after the expiration of his travel authority but he failed to do so.
The court stressed that it also issued a warrant of arrest against Teves in September 2023 while the Anti-Terrorism Council designated him and others as terrorists.
“Teves, Jr. in utter disrespect of the court and willful disregard of the law, refuses to yield. By his refusal to come back to face his cases and his consistent flight mode, he deliberately continues to frustrate the ends of justice,” the court said.
The Manila court also said that Teves’ acts are “calculated to put himself beyond the reach” of the court.
“Sinasabi ng taumbayan nasaan ‘yung hustisya? Ito yung hustisya,” Abalos said.
(Our countrymen are asking where is justice? Here is justice.)
Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, the legal counsel of Teves, said the order is not final and executory.
“There is still an entire slew of legal remedies available to us in order to reverse the same, and we fully intend to resort to all of them,” Topacio said in a statement.
Degamo and others were killed when armed gunmen stormed into his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental while he was distributing aid.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Teves appears to be the mastermind in the killing.
Teves denied being involved in the killing of Degamo. —KG, GMA Integrated News