DOJ to Teves: Flight is indication of guilt

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday warned Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves that his prolonged stay overseas indicates guilt.

“Ayaw atang umuwi ni Congressman Teves (Congressman Teves does not want to go home) because he’s fearing for his safety but there are no excuses, poor excuses not to face charges and as the legal maxim say flight is an indication of guilt,” Remulla told reporters.

Suspects tagged Teves as “mastermind” in the March 4 assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, where nine people were shot dead.

He flew to the US in late February for medical treatment, but the travel authority issued to him by the House of Representatives expired on March 9.

Remulla said that the claim that Teves was framed up has "no value" if the official will not return and provide his defense.

“Kung ‘di sya uuwi to face it (If he will not return home to face it), those statements have no value. Stop printing those statements because they have no value if he won't present them in court,” the Justice secretary said.

While he denied the allegations, Teves asked House Speaker Martin Romualdez for a two-month leave from the House of Representatives, citing a "very grave security threat" to his life and family.

Remulla assured the Negros Oriental lawmaker that he will be safe upon his return.

“We don’t intend to fail. It's important to us that he remains safe and he faces the process,” he said.

Remulla said the legal process will be observed once charges are filed and an arrest warrant is issued.

With reports from CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Anjo Alimario and senior multi-platform news writer Vince Ferreras