Remulla: Gov’t to cancel Teves’ passport once charged in court

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 10) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) will request for the cancellation of Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves’ passport once a criminal case is filed against him in court for his alleged involvement in the murder of Gov. Roel Degamo, Justice Secretary Boying Remulla said Wednesday.

Remulla made the clarification in a media briefing after he told CNN Philippines that the processing of the cancelation of Teves’ passport may start next week or as soon as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) files a murder complaint against the congressman with the DOJ.

“Once the NBI files a case with the prosecutors, we can now seek for the cancelation of the passport. But effectively, the passports are canceled when there is already a court case. So we will wait for the cases to be filed before the courts by the prosecutors…before we seek the cancelation of the passport,” Remulla explained during the briefing.

“The right to travel is a constitutional right so we have to respect that right... Given that, we will only cancel it when there is a cause to cancel it, which is a court case for murder or terrorism or whatever cases will be filed,” the DOJ chief added.

It was revealed on Tuesday that Teves, who was tagged as the mastermind of Degamo's murder, is currently in the capital city of Dili in Timor-Leste and has applied "for a protection visa with the intent of asylum."

The Timor-Leste government denied Teves’ application and ordered the embattled lawmaker to leave within five days.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the congressman may still appeal the decision during the five-day period.

Remulla said he expects Teves to travel back and forth between South Korea and Cambodia, as well as in Bangkok where some of Teves' people are.

In the Wednesday briefing, the justice secretary said the agency has information confirming that Teves holds another passport from another jurisdiction. He said every travel using a diplomatic passport needs to be revalidated by the DFA.

“It is only good for one trip. Let’s say he [Rep. Teves] already used it for his United States trip, it would not be good for other trips anymore,” Remulla said.

Two months after the assassination of Degamo in March, the DOJ chief said they aim to file the complaints against Teves by the end of this week or Monday next week.

Asked why authorities are taking so long to file the complaints, Remulla said they only want to make sure it will be strong and will lead to conviction.

Remulla also said the technical working group formed to tackle the possible designation of Teves as terrorist will meet in the next two weeks.

While the process will take another two weeks, Remulla said he believes the congressman will be designated as such given the evidence so far gathered by authorities.

Remulla said individuals that can be tagged as terrorists are those who played important roles in the Degamo slay that left fear within the populace of Negros Oriental.

Teves’ assets will be frozen once he is designated as a terrorist, he added.

He also said Teves can be considered a fugitive since he is also facing multiple murder complaints in relation to the killing of at least four individuals in 2019.

“He [Rep. Teves] is wanted for legal processes (subpoenas). He is unable to receive subpoenas because he has absented himself from the country knowing fully well that there are charges,” Remulla said.