MANILA — Sen. JV Ejercito on Tuesday urged Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. to return to the Philippines and answer allegations linking him to the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.
"I'm hoping that he comes home as soon as possible and face the music. If he's indeed not guilty, then there is nothing that he should be worried about," he told ANC's "Headstart".
Teves being in the US before Degamo was murdered breeds speculation, Ejercito said.
"Because of him being in the United States, a lot of people are speculating that there's a saying that flight means guilt," he said.
"Just a day before the fatal ambush of Gov. Degamo, it was a coincidence he was there in the US. So, he has to come home and face all the cases that are being filed against him."
For Ejercito, chairperson of Senate Committee on Local Government, Degamo's killing is a "black eye" for the whole country.
"Gov. Degamo doesn't deserve this kind of death. We want justice for what has happened," he said.
The senator also lamented that the incident is a failure of intelligence on the part of police.
Gunmen stormed the governor's house in Pamplona town on March 4, killing Degamo and 8 others and wounding 16 more people.
The attack came after the Supreme Court declared Degamo the rightful winner of the contest for the Negros Oriental governorship following a recount that unseated his rival, who had previously been proclaimed victor.
Teves earlier said their clan had nothing to do with the killing.
In a press briefing, Teves' lawyers said the lawmaker intends to return to the Philippines as long as he and his family are safe.
"He's 100 percent willing to come back. Ang problema nga 'yung security kasi nga 'pag titingnan mo tinanggalan ka ng lisensiya, kinasuhan ka for a 2019 incident. Bigla kang rinaid," lawyer Toby Diokno has said.
The Department of Justice earlier said based on the latest information, Teves has left the US for an Asian country. But his lawyers said that as far they know, Teves is in the US.
The travel clearance granted to Teves by the House of Representatives ended March 9.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio has tagged as "hearsay" a suspect's claim that Teves was behind Degamo's killing.