By Benjamin Pulta

ARRESTED. Ousted Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. is arrested at a golf driving range in Timor-Leste on March 21, 2024. The Department of Justice on Wednesday (April 17) urged Teves to return home and face the charges against him instead of fighting deportation and issuing misleading allegations. (Screengrab from NBI)

MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday refuted statements made by the defense counsel of ousted Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. that prosecutors tampered with witnesses in the ongoing case of the murder of Governor Roel Degamo and nine others.

“I can confirm that this statement is completely misleading,” DOJ Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic Clavano said of the allegations by Teves’ counsel Ferdinand Topacio that the DOJ has been “tampering” with two arrested conspirators in the case due to the absence of legal counsels.

“The evidence is strong, and we just want to finally be able to present it in court and have the court decide on the guilt of the perpetrator. This case is more than just a case of multiple murders, it is a massacre of a sitting Governor. It is a massacre of innocent bystanders,” he said in a statement.

Clavano urged Teves to just return to the Philippines and face the charges against him. “The people don’t need this kind of roundabout. He should face the case, face the court,” he added.

Teves is fighting his deportation back to the Philippines and has remained in Timor-Leste where he was arrested last March based on a red notice issued by the International Criminal Police Organization.

The former lawmaker is facing 10 counts of murder, 12 counts of frustrated murder, and four counts of attempted murder before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 51 in relation to the March 4, 2023 shootings in Pamplona town. The trial court had issued an arrest order against him. (PNA)