Bacolod mayor urges Negros Or. lawmaker to return, face charges

Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo “Albee”’ Benitez (left) and Negros Oriental 3rd district Rep. Arnie Teves. (Photos courtesy of BCD PIO and GMA News)

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo “Albee”’ Benitez urged Negros Oriental 3rd district Rep. Arnie Teves to “come home” and face the charges against him.

“It’s hard if you are on the run,” Benitez said in a press conference Monday when asked for his message to Teves who has claimed that the mayor owed him a debt.

In a video that went viral on social media during the weekend, Teves also said he would like to see if the national government will also include Benitez in the terrorist list.

This, after he reportedly received information that his friends and children will be included in the terrorist list this week.

Teves said that everyone knows that Benitez, whom he called “Boss”, is his business partner and friend.

Earlier, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) declared Teves and 12 others as terrorists for their alleged involvement in the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and other killings.

In Resolution No. 63 dated July 26, 2023 and signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, the ATC identified Teves as the leader and mastermind of the “terrorist group” behind Degamo’s murder and other political killings in Negros Oriental.

The resolution also labeled Teves’ brother, former Negros Oriental Gov. Pryde Henry Teves, as a terrorist for allegedly providing material support to his brother’s alleged terrorist group.

Teves described Benitez “ang isa niya ka abyan nga wala na karon nagasapak sa akon.”

He further said that if his children will be included in the terrorist list, he wants to see if Benitez will also be included in the list to show that authorities are fair.

Teves also called on Benitez to pay his purported debt which the latter owed him and promised to pay in December 2022.

He added that he doesn’t want to name Benitez but he said “masyadong na akong naiipit, hindi mo ako pinapansin (I am now in dire straits and you don’t mind me at all).”

Teves further said “Boss, I’ll take this opportunity, saksi ang mainstream at social media, pakibayaran naman yung utang mo sa akin, kawawa naman yung pamilya ko, yung pera natin sa negosyo na mag kasosyo tayo, pag usapan na lang natin pero yung personal mo na utang mo sa akin pakibayaran na lang.”

Benitez denied owing Teves money.

“I have heard that there are certain allegations of business dealings but as of now, I have no paper or document that specifies or even indicates any association,” the mayor said.

He added, though, that “if he (Teves) says there is, that is something that will be discussed in the proper forum.”

As far as his association with Teves is concerned, Benitez said “we were colleagues in Congress, he joined the Visayan bloc.”

Benitez stressed though that the situation now is different after Teves was designated as a terrorist by the ATC.

“Let us put it this way, I am actually bound already by certain laws,” he said.

He cited the Terrorism, Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 which states that any person, association, or company that is directly or indirectly dealing with designated terrorists will be subjected to certain penalties.

Benitez added that the penalties go as far as reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment.

He said this is the reason why Teves claimed that he was not answering the latter’s calls.

“This is already a different situation, the circumstances are different when we were together in 2013. There are certain things that we must abide by, I am a person that will never, never break the law. It is heartbreaking to see this kind of situation, but that is the law. So this is not just an ordinary dealing that we can answer on the basis of what is printed or being asked,” Benitez said.

Benitez also said that he called Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and asked him “certain perimeters on how to go about with this.”

He said Remulla told him that “it is better we address this in the proper forum.”

When asked if he would enjoin Teves to come home and face the charges against him, the mayor said, “I think it is the best option, he may think otherwise.”