MANILA — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Tuesday said suspended Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr. was "still in Cambodia," weeks after he was tagged as one of the alleged masterminds in the assassination of the province's governor Roel Degamo.
This, despite calls from his own family, including his younger brother former Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves, to return to the Philippines to face allegations hurled against him.
"I think he is still in Cambodia," Remulla told reporters.
He noted that he has also talked to the younger Teves, who was also implicated in the Degamo slay following a recent raid at a sugar mill compound he reportedly owned.
Remulla said the former governor only reiterated his stance that he had nothing to do with the March 4 armed attack that killed Degamo and 8 others.
The dialogue between Remulla and the younger Teves took place before the Holy Week break, he added.
"He is in the process of trying to clear his name [that] he was not involved, he had no idea that this was going to happen and that he just wants to live in peace," Remulla also said.
The justice secretary, however, did not say if they had any evidence against the younger Teves.
"We discussed some of the matters at length but of course we tried to avoid matters that in any way compromise our position or his position, because he was with the presence of counsel Atty. Raymond Fortun," he said.
The younger Teves had earlier filed a waiver allowing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into his phone, bank, and email records. He had also surrendered several firearms to authorities after the Philippine National Police (PNP) revoked his gun license.
Remulla also confirmed new details in Degamo's killing, including 2 previous assassination attempts on the slain governor.
The attempts — one using a rocket-propelled grenade and another through a sniper — were detailed in a resolution by a panel of DOJ prosecutors dated April 4.
Before the Holy Week break, DOJ announced that it had indicted Rep. Teves' long-time security aide Marvin Miranda for multiple counts of murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder.
The DOJ had said Miranda's indictment was based on statements from 5 fellow suspects claiming he played an "indispensable" part in the planning of Degamo's assassination.
—with reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News