LAWYER Ferdinand Topacio said on Monday, March 13, 2023 that the firearms which the police recovered in a raid in the house of Negros Oriental third district Representative Arnulfo Teves were not his.

In an interview with reporters in Quezon City, Topacio, Teves’ lead legal counsel, said the official has already surrendered to the police his firearms after receiving information that the authorities will raid his houses.

He said he is certain that Teves no longer have firearms in his possession.

“The latest was three days ago. Ako personal nag surrender nung tatlong firearms sa residence niya in Quezon City doon sa nearest precinct as provided for by the guidelines sa pag own and possess ng firearms (I personally surrendered the three firearms at his residence in Quezon City at the nearest precinct as provided for by the guidelines for owning and possessing firearms.)” he said.

“Ikaw ba naman, hindi ka mangmang na tao, alam mo na re-raidin yung mga bahay mo, mag iiwan ka ba ng katakot-takot na firearms and explosives? ‘Di ba?” Topacio added.

(As for you, you know that your houses will be raided, will you leave firearms and explosives?)

In a press conference in January, Teves said he received information from a reliable sources that Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. has ordered some agencies to secure a search warrant for the conduct of a raid in his house and to plant evidence once they don’t get anything during the operations just to ensure the filing of charges against him.

On March 10, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) operatives raided several houses of Teves in Negros Oriental during the service of a search warrant over illegal possession of firearms.

The CIDG said recovered during the operations were various long and short firearms, ammunition, and several explosives.

The operation came following the filing of murder charges against Teves over the killings of three individuals in the province in 2019 and after he was implicated as the brains behind the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

Topacio questioned the timing and the manner of the raid, noting that according to the law, search warrants should be done during day time.

He also said the occupants of the subject of the raids were also made to go out which made them more suspicious.

“Hindi lang namin pinaninindigan na hearsay. Pinaninindagan namin walang kasalanan si Congressman Teves,” said Topacio.

(We don’t just stand by hearsay. We maintain that Congressman Teves is innocent.)

“Ang hinihiling lang po namin is fundamental fairness. Kaya nga ‘yung panawagan ko is a plea for sobriety. Wag muna tayo mag salita na kung ano-ano na para bang guilty yung mga subjects for investigation,” he added.

(All we ask for is fundamental fairness. That’s why my appeal is a plea for sobriety. Let’s not say anything as if the subjects for investigation are guilty.)

Teves is currently in the United States where he underwent stem cell procedures.

His travel authority expired last week but he asked the House of Representative leadership for another month of stay there.

Topacio said Teves is ready to return to the country to face the allegations against him but he is concerned about his and his family’s safety and security.

The PNP has removed Teves’ security detail but Colonel Jean Fajardo said he will be provided with police aides again if he would request for it.

House speaker Martin Romualdez said he has yet to receive any communication with Teves since he urged him to return to the country.

“I expect Cong. Arnie to heed my appeal and report for work as soon as possible. His stay outside the country is no longer authorized by the House of Representatives,” said Romualdez.

“Nagsalita na ang mga opisyal ng PNP. They are willing to provide security to protect him from bodily harm. All Cong. Arnie needs to do is make the appropriate request. Our law enforcers cannot extend this protection outside the Philippines,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)