Teves faces ethics probe

Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla may revamp the roster of public prosecutors assigned in conflict-torn Negros Oriental where Governor Roel Degamo was assassinated on 4 March.

Remulla said he would announce reassignments after yesterday’s interment of Degamo.

He said Degamo’s relatives, including his widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, had proposed the replacement of prosecutors in the province, “because they have complaints about what happened in the past.”

At the same time, he renewed his appeal to Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. to return to the Philippines forthwith to face the charges against him.

“We have many people we can assign to secure them,” Remulla said in response to Teves’s statement that he feared for his life and that of his loved ones if he came home.

“It’s important to come home and face the charges because that’s where all of this is heading,” Remulla added.

Teves, who was allowed a medical leave from the House of Representatives from 28 February to 9 March 2023, had asked Speaker Martin Romualdez for a two-month extension of his authority to travel.

Romualdez told Teves’ lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, the congressman should come home immediately.

He said the House Ethics Committee had taken note of Teves’s refusal to heed a direct order from the Speaker’s office to come home.

The Philippine National Police last week filed murder charges against Teves and several other persons over the killing of three persons in 2019.

Judged publicly

One of the four suspects in the assassination of Degamo, on the other hand, tagged “Congressman Teves” as the alleged mastermind.

“I strongly urge Congressman Arnie to reconsider his decision not to return. It does not sit well for a House member to flee the country rather than avail himself of all the legal remedies available to him,” said the Speaker on Thursday.

Teves anchored his two-month leave extension plea on the “very grave and serious security threats” to his and his loved ones’ lives.

“I’ve already been judged publicly despite the absence of legal charges against me. I have already been persecuted by some authorities through the planting of evidence in my house and other properties,” he said.

Teves reportedly left the United States, where he had purportedly sought treatment, and is believed to have flown to a Southeast Asian country.

“The Committee on Ethics has acquired jurisdiction over Congressman Arnie’s case. I will act accordingly after the committee wraps up its investigation and submits its recommendation to the House leadership,” Romualdez said.

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