Teves not hiding, but will only return to PH if assured of fair play, counsel says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) — Negros Oriental 3rd district Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., the alleged mastermind behind the murder of Gov. Roel Degamo, is not hiding abroad, but will only return to the Philippines if he is assured of fair play in the case, the congressman’s counsel said Tuesday.

“He is not in hiding because he left long before the crime being imputed to him was committed and one cannot be in hiding when there is nothing to hide from,” lawyer Ferdinand Topacio told CNN Philippines’ The Source, noting they have yet to receive subpoena regarding any case.

On Mar. 9, a suspect tagged a “Congressman Teves” as the person who orchestrated Degamo's assassination.

This was after Teves flew to the United States on Feb. 28 for medical treatment. Since then, he has not returned to the Philippines despite the expiration on March 9 of the travel authority issued to him by the House of Representatives.

While his client felt bewildered and concerned about the allegation, Topacio noted Teves “is more than eager to come back to face the charges and clear his name.” However, this will only happen once he is sure that the rule of law will be followed, the lawyer said.

Topacio said they also want assurance from authorities that no one will tag Teves as guilty even before a proper criminal investigation is conducted

On Monday, Topacio said that safety is also a concern for Teves that is why he has yet to return home. 

Meanwhile, House Speaker Ferdinand Romualdez said he had a chance to talk with Teves and assured him that security arrangements upon his return are now being planned.

“I assured him that the Speaker, as the political and administrative leader of the House of Representatives, will exert all efforts to ensure the personal safety of all Members,” he said.

“In fact, I have ordered the House Sergeant-at-Arms to coordinate with law enforcement agencies and prepare appropriate security arrangements for his return.”

The Philippine National Police has said it is willing to provide the security that Teves needs once he returns to the country.