DOJ mulls suing Cong. Teves for ‘terrorism’
But solon unfazed, claims proceedings against him akin to ‘circus’
DEPARTMENT of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla bared he has instructed some of his lawyers to study the possibility of suing Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves of engaging in “terrorism” in connection with the killing last March 4, 2023, of Governor Roel Degamo and several others (see also Pinoy Exposé, March 20, 2023).
Appearing before a Senate panel investigating the bloody incident on Monday, April 17, 2023 that also resulted to the collateral death of 8 others and the wounding of dozens more, the justice secretary averred that all the “elements” of a terrorist act were purportedly committed by Teves, now the main suspect or “mastermind” in the carnage.
“In this case, the activities that led to the killing on March 4, all are covered under the anti-terror law: the recruitment, the financing, the purchase of firearms, [and] the distribution of firearms,” Remulla told the Senate Committee on Public Order chaired by Sen. Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa, a former chief of the Philippine National Police.
However, the designation of the lawmaker as a ‘terrorist’ under RA 11479 (Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020), remains another “option” for now for the government in order to add “pressure” for Teves to finally return home and face the accusations against him.
“That is really the intent — the proscription and the designation to be our goal further down the road because if the person will not surrender, then we will have to make the world smaller for him,” Remulla said.
Among the consequences of being sued for terrorism once approved by the court is the freezing of the accused’s financial assets by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). The situation would make the solon a very poor man overnight.
But Remulla said immediately charging Teves with terrorism could prejudice the other cases against the solon being contemplated such as murder and multiple murder.
“However, when cases were filed individually, we could not file an anti-terror case immediately because it takes a lot of legal theory and a lot of research to prove a terrorism case.
“And we are afraid right now that if we immediately file a terrorism case based on the crimes that transpired, it may prejudice other convictions that may be secured easily with the same punishment for multiple murder,” Remulla explained.
Speaking to the media via Zoom later, Teves, who remains abroad, was unfazed as he accused Remulla of turning the issue into a “circus.” His offer to attend the hearing via Zoom was rejected by the committee, similar to the rejection by his colleagues in Congress who had also probed the incident earlier.
“Ang pakiramdam ko sa totoo lang nakakatawa na. Nagiging perya na siya (investigation).
“It’s becoming to be a circus. Paano ka magiging terorista kung hindi ka pa nga nakakasuhan,” referring the continued absence of formal charges against him until now.