Ex-lawmaker accused of killing Philippine governor arrested in East Timor

Ex-lawmaker accused of killing Philippine governor arrested in East Timor
Ex-lawmaker accused of killing Philippine governor arrested in East Timor

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A Filipino former congressman accused of organising the killing of a provincial governor has been arrested at a golf driving range in East Timor, the Philippine Department of Justice said. — Reuters pic

MANILA, March 22 — A Filipino former congressman accused of organising the killing of a provincial governor has been arrested at a golf driving range in East Timor, the Philippine Department of Justice said.

Arnolfo Teves was the alleged mastermind of the March 2023 attack, which killed Roel Degamo, then-governor of the central province of Negros Oriental, and nine others.

Police in East Timor detained Teves at a golf driving range in the capital Dili yesterday after Interpol issued a “red notice” for his arrest, the justice department said in a statement late yesterday.

Teves is in custody awaiting extradition to the Philippines where he faces “multiple murder charges”, the statement said. Teves has previously denied involvement in Degamo’s murder.

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Gunmen wearing military-style uniforms entered Degamo’s home and opened fire on March 4, killing nine, including the governor, in the country’s deadliest political attack in years.

A tenth victim died two months later.

Eleven suspects were arrested over the assault in the sugarcane-growing heartland of the Philippines.

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A twelfth suspect was killed in a shoot-out.

Teves’ brother, Henry, was unseated as governor of Negros Oriental after the election commission declared in September 2022 that Degamo was the rightful winner of the election earlier that year following a vote count.

The month before Degamo was killed, the Supreme Court upheld the decision.

Arnolfo Teves was expelled from the House of Representatives in August 2023 after he refused to return to the Philippines to face the murder allegations. The government also declared him and his brother Henry as “terrorist individuals”.

“The capture of Teves only proves that through concerted efforts and determination, terrorism can be thwarted and peace preserved,” Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla said.

Degamo’s widow welcomed Teves’ arrest.

“Words cannot express how it feels to finally see the man who terrorised our province and brutally murdered my husband surrounded by police,” Janice Degamo, who is mayor of Pamplona municipality in Negros Oriental, said in a post.

The Philippines has a long history of attacks on politicians.

In the bloodiest politically motivated ambush on record, the leaders of a powerful southern clan and about two dozen followers were sentenced to life in prison for a 2009 attack on supporters of a gubernatorial election rival in Maguindanao province.

Fifty-eight people were killed in the attack, including the politician’s wife and relatives, along with 32 journalists and media workers who were covering the race. — AFP

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