MANILA — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday maintained that it followed all proper and lawful procedures during the March 10 raids of Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.'s properties.
PNP Spokesperson P/Col. Jean Fajardo made the statement following accusations that the operation was "heavy-handed" and out of order.
Teves' legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio also alleged that the firearms authorities recovered from the lawmaker's properties were planted.
"We stand with the statements ng ating operating units na they followed protocols and procedures doon sa pag-implement ng search warrants. And doon, particularly sa bahay ni Cong. Teves, ay nag-witness pa doon ay iyong mismong abugado nila at present doon yung mga barangay officials nung barangay kung saan inimplement yung [search warrant]," Fajardo said.
(And particularly in the house of Cong. Teves, their lawyer was a witness and barangay officials were present.)
She also defended the presence of Special Action Force (SAF) commandos during the raids, given that the subject of the searches was "high-risk."
"Kapagka ang subject ng [search warrant] ay tinuturing natin na ay high-risk, allowable naman ang PNP to utilize and deploy iyong highly-skilled PNP personnel na naka-assign sa SAF or mobile force companies. Pupuwede sila muna iyong entering to make sure na magiging safe iyong ating mga seizing officers, searching team bago nila pasukin," she said.
(When the subject of a search warrant is considered high-risk, the PNP is allowed to utilize and deploy highly-skilled personnel... They can enter the premises first to make sure that the search team is safe.)
"Ang importante ay may prior notice iyong may-ari ng bahay at bago nila iyon pasukin ay ipapakita sa kanila yung kopya ng [search warrant] at kung sakali sila magre-refuse then that's the only time the operating unit may be allowed to break in the place of the [search warrant]," Fajardo added.
(What is important is that prior notice is given to the owner of the house and before they allow the officers in, they will be shown a copy of the warrant. If they refuse, then that's the only time the operating unit may be allowed to break in.)
The PNP also pointed out that its personnel were wearing body cameras during the search operations, as evidenced by pictures taken at the time.
Reacting to allegations made by Teves' lawyers, Fajardo said the embattled congressman's camp was free to voice opinions on the issue.
She also reacted to insinuations of harassment, noting that the search warrants had basis as they were served in connection with a murder complaint filed against Teves for his alleged involvement in the 2019 killing of former Negros Oriental Board Member Miguel Dungog.
"We don't want to engage in conversation or arguments with Atty. Topacio. He is entitled to his opinion at like sabi po ng ating SILG (Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos), there is a proper forum doon sa kanilang question with respect sa implementation ng warrant," Fajardo said.
"May isa tayong witness na nagsasabi may alam siya sa naging pagplano doon sa insidente na yun nung 2019, [and] he was also the one who provided the information na si Cong. Teves at iba po ay meron silang pag-iingat na loose firearms. That was the reason bakit nag-apply ang PNP-CIDG ng [search warrant]," she added.
(A witness said he knew something about the 2019 incident and he was also the one who provided the information that Cong. Teves and several others were keeping loose firearms. That was why the PNP-CIDG applied for a warrant.)
According to CIDG chief legal officer P/Col. Thomas Valmonte, the search on Teves' properties saw the recovery of 3 grenades, 10 short firearms, 6 M4 rifles, 465 live ammunitions, 22 assorted magazines, and 194 empty shells.
Following the raid, 6 of Teves' associates were arrested and brought to Manila. They, along with the solon himself, are facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
The CIDG earlier said the raids had no link to allegations that Teves was supposedly involved in the recent killing of Negros Oriental Governor Degamo.
Teves earlier said his clan had nothing to do with the assassination of Degamo, who unseated the lawmaker's brother as governor after an election dispute.