Manila: An arrest warrant has been issued against Philippines's ex-congressman Arnulfo “Arnie” Teves Jr, 52, in connection with the mass murder that killed a local governor and nine others in Pamplona town, Negros Oriental province.
The arrest warrant was signed by Presiding Judge Merianthe Pacita Zuraek of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 51. The arraignment and pre-trial conference have been rescheduled to October 4, 2023, at 1:30 in the afternoon.
During a briefing on Tuesday, Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla expressed confidence in the court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for Teves.
It is understood that Philippine authorities will now request for an Interpol "red notice" for law enforcement worldwide to help locate and provisionally arrest Teves Jr pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.
• Authorities identified three of the arrested suspects as former Philippine Army soldiers Joric G Labrador, 50, from Cagayan de Oro City; Joven C Aber Calibjo, 42, from Barangay Robles, La Castellana, Negros Occidental; and Benjie B Rodriguez, 45, from Bonifacio, Misamis Occidental.
• The three ex-soldiers (inset, below right) received training in close-quarters combat (CQB) and had combat experience.
• Consequently, they were each given dishonorable discharges from the military due to their instances of Absence Without Leave (AWOL) and drug-related charges.
• As of April 3, 2023, eleven (11) suspects, all former military men, were under police custody.
• Nine of them are former personnel while others were a reservist and a trainee.
• Six of them were arrested while the rest surrendered. One of those arrested was one of the alleged masterminds, former Army reservist Marvin Miranda.
• Another suspect killed in pursuit operations was later identified as Arnil Labradilla, a former communist New People's Army rebel.
Secretary Remulla also mentioned his belief that Teves is currently in Timor Leste and continues to travel to Cambodia and Thailand.
The Philippine government also plans is to notify the United Nations that Teves, now designated as a terrorist, is facing murder charges and should stand trial in the Philippines.
They will request UN member-states to acknowledge their duty of rendition to bring Teves back to face charges against him.
Two of the suspects named a certain 'Cong Teves' as the mastermind in an ambush interview with the media. Justice Secretary Remulla considers the representative to be the "highest mastermind" of the attack.
In August, Teves Jr was expelled from the House of Representatives for disorderly behaviour, violating the House of Representatives' Code of Conduct, continued absence without leave, and seeking political asylum in Timor-Leste.
His recent designation as a terrorist and inappropriate behaviour on social media were also cited. Additionally, Teves faces murder charges in connection with the 2019 killings in Negros Oriental.
Who is Arnie Teves?
- Name: Arnolfo "Arnie" Alipit Teves Jr.
- Born: August 10, 1971 (age 52 years), Bayawan City
- Party: Nationalist People's Coalition
- Previous office: Member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines (2016–2023)
- He ascended from a barangay chairman to a congressman.
- Arnie Teves forms part of a prominent political family that has held key positions in Negros Oriental for several decades, representing the 3rd District.
- His younger brother, Pryde Henry Teves, also served as a lawmaker, following in the footsteps of their grandfather, Herminio "Meniong" Teves.
- The family's political involvement in the region dates back to 1987.
- During his first term in Congress, Teves revealed his history as a former drug user but asserted that he had been drug-free for over 16 years.
- The Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group conducted raids on Teves' properties due to firearms allegedly supported by fraudulent documentation.
- Additionally, suspects in the murder of Negros Oriental's former governor, Roel Degamo, implicated a certain "Congressman Teves" as the mastermind, though Teves was abroad for medical reasons and had not returned to the Philippines at the time.
- Teves had his security details withdrawn as they were not affiliated with the Police Security Protection Group responsible for safeguarding government officials.