Marcos says gov't sees no threats vs. Teves but offers protection for him to return

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 22) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said his administration does not know of any threats against Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., but that it will offer him protection if he returns to the country to face allegations against him.

After failing to show up for work in Congress on Tuesday despite an ultimatum from colleagues, Teves claimed he still cannot fly back to the Philippines due to threats to his life.

"Ganun pa rin ang sinasabi niya, may banta daw sa buhay niya," Marcos said. "Kami naman sa intelligence, the best intelligence we have, we don't know of any threat. Saan manggagaling 'yung threat?"

[Translation: He's still saying the same thing, that there's a threat to his life. The best intelligence we have, we don't know of any threat. Where will that come from?]

Teves flew to the United States on Feb. 28, citing the need for medical treatment. The travel authority issued to him by the House of Representatives expired on March 9.

However, he has not yet returned since being tagged as the "mastermind" in the March 4 assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo. Degamo and eight other people were fatally shot in the attack.

Police also filed murder complaints against Teves in relation to the killings of at least four people in 2019, and more recently, cases for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Teves has repeatedly denied the accusations through his lawyers and video statements posted on his social media page.

Related to e-sabong?

The congressman claimed he knew as early as January that he would be framed for a crime.

He said he also suspects that he was set up by someone from the government due to his alleged ties to illegal e-sabong or online cockfighting operations. Teves has denied involvement in e-sabong.

Marcos said there is no truth to this.

"Ang puno't dulo nito ay e-sabong? Hindi [This all stemmed from e-sabong? No]," the President said. "This is about the killing of Governor Degamo, pure and simple."

Despite not seeing threats against the lawmaker, Marcos said his administration is ready to provide "all kinds of security" to reassure him and persuade him to come home.

He said this includes deploying personnel to ensure Teves will be safe upon arrival in the country.

"Mayaman ka naman, may private jet ka naman eh, mag-landing ka kung saan mo gusto...Papaligiran natin ng sundalo, walang makakalapit ng isang kilometro. That will guarantee his security," Marcos said.

[Translation: You're rich, you have a private jet, you can land anywhere you want. We will have soldiers surround the area, no one else can come near within a kilometer radius. That will guarantee his security.]

He also urged Teves to immediately fly back to the Philippines to prevent things from escalating.

"The only advice I can give to Cong. Arnie is that habang tumatagal ito, mas naging mahirap ang sitwasyon mo," the president said . "Mas maaga kang makauwi, mas marami pang option ang mangyayari. Pero pagka masyado nang late, wala na, mapipilitan ang gobyerno. We will have to move without any discussions with him."

[Translation: The only advice I can give to Cong. Arnie is that the longer it takes for you to come home, the harder your situation gets. If you return early, there will be more options for you. But if it's too late, the government will be forced to move without any discussions with you.]

Teves wants to talk to Marcos

The lawmaker, meanwhile, stood firm on his claims of threats, and said he would want to have a conversation with the president to explain his side.

"Ang nangyari kasi ngayon, pagkatapos palang ng murder, ako na kaagad ang tinumbok," Teves said in a video message posted on his social media account.

"Gusto ko sana kayong makausap para maka-explain ako sa inyo. Kung kayo na ang humiling na umuwi ako, mas mahihirapan ako na humindi dahil mas may authority kayo makabigay ng proteksyon sa akin," he added.

[Translation: What happened was, after the murder, I was the one targeted. I hope to talk to you so I can explain my side. If you're the one who requested I come home, I'll have a hard time saying no because you have the authority to provide protection.]

Teves also said he's open to the investigation on Degamo's murder. "Ang request ko lang sana sir, huwag ako lang. Dapat lahat ng anggulo tingnan [My only request sir, I hope it's not only me. All angles should be pursued]."