Rep. Teves will return to PH once security concerns are addressed – legal counsel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 13) — Negros Oriental 3rd district Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. will return to the Philippines once concerns about his safety are addressed, his legal counsel told the media on Monday.

Teves traveled to the United States on Feb. 28 for medical treatment. The House of Representatives issued him a travel authority which expired on Mar. 9. He has remained out of the country since then.

“Teves intends to return to clear his name. However, in light of recent developments where the rights not only of Congressman Teves but the rights of others associated with him were trampled upon, may malaking concern sa security niya [There are big concerns on his security]. He’s weighing the pros and cons,” Ferdinand Topacio, Teves’ head legal counsel, said.

On Mar. 9, a suspect in the killing named “Congressman Teves” as the mastermind behind the assassination of Roel Degamo. Topacio argued that this was hearsay.

Authorities raided four properties owned by Teves’ family. Police seized firearms of varying calibers, ammunition, and even a grenade.

Teves’ team alleged that the raid was highly illegal and irregular and that some of the seized weapons had been planted during the raid. They also said that Teves’ household members were afraid that another raid might take place.

READ: Authorities raid properties owned by family of Rep. Teves, alleged mastermind of Degamo slay

Topacio claimed they had received a report that Teves’ brother, former Negros Oriental Governor Pryde Henry Teves, would be subjected to a police raid.

Meanwhile, the lawyers also said that they were attempting to contact House Speaker Martin Romualdez who earlier told Teves to return to the country to clear his name.

READ: House Speaker tells Rep. Teves: 'Come back to the country ASAP'

“We are already reaching out to the Office of Speaker Martin Romualdez kasi may mga pinapa-relay si Teves for his ears only para maintindihan niya yung sitwasyon [Teves has a message for Romualdez’ ears only, so he can understand the situation],” Topacio said.

Sabi niya [He said] come home but he may not have been apprised of the complete situation with respect to the security concerns of Teves. Wala siyang firearms, wala siyang security escort, and nire-raid ang mga bahay niya [He has no firearms, no security escorts, and his homes are being raided],” he continued.

However, Romualdez revealed that he had not received any communication from Teves since he urged him on Mar. 10 to come home.

“I expect Cong. Arnie [Teves] to heed my appeal and report for work as soon as possible. His stay outside the country is no longer authorized by the House of Representatives,” Romualdez said in response to the claims made by Teves’ lawyers.

“Nagsalita na ang mga opisyal ng PNP [The Philippine National Police has spoken]. They are willing to provide security to protect him from bodily harm," the Speaker added. "All Cong Arnie needs to do is make the appropriate request. Our law enforcers cannot extend this protection outside the Philippines.”

Teves’ lawyers added that the congressman was open to any inquiries or investigations – such as the probe by the House Committee on Public Order and Safety on his involvement in the Degamo slay – so long as these remain impartial.

CNN Philippines has contacted the Department of Justice for its comments on the matter.