(MANILA BULLETIN) Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada on Tuesday, Aug. 1 expressed his belief suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., and the 12 other individuals who have been tagged as terrorists should be accorded due process of law.
Estrada pointed this out after the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) designated Teves Jr. and the 12 persons as terrorists under ATC Resolution No. 43 for the killings and harassment in Negros Oriental.
Other personalities who are included in the resolution included Teves Jr.’s brother, Pryde Henry Teves, Marvin H. Miranda, Rogelio C. Antipolo, Rommel Pattaguan, Winrich B. Isturis, John Louie Gonyon, Daniel Lora, Eulogio Gonyon Jr., Tomasino Aledro, Nigel Electona, Jomarie Catubay, and Hannah Mae Sumero Oray.
Teves Jr. has been tagged as the mastermind in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo last March 4. Degamo and nine other individuals were killed in the attack.
“The pursuit of justice and accountability for acts of terrorism must be carried out with utmost respect for human rights and due process to uphold the principles of a just and democratic society,” Estrada said in a statement.
“It is crucial to ensure that any measures taken by the government to combat terrorism do not infringe upon individuals’ fundamental rights and liberties,” added the senator.
Estrada reminded authorities that striking a balance between security concerns and the protection of human rights is vital in upholding democratic values and the rule of law.
“If evidence supports their involvement in such criminal activities, they should be brought to justice through a fair and impartial legal process,” he said.
“Like those similarly situated, Rep. Teves should be accorded the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a competent court,” added the lawmaker.
As a lawmaker himself, Estrada urged Teves, who has yet to return to the Philippines, to take the opportunity to clear himself by submitting to authorities and cooperating in the ongoing investigation.
“As a colleague of Rep. Teves, I implore him to submit himself to the rule of law and take this opportunity to defend himself, present evidence to clear his name, and have the charges expunged through the appropriate legal procedures,” he said.
“Naniniwala ako na mananaig ang katotohanan sa issue na ito kung paiiralin ang fair, transparent at impartial na legal proceedings (I believe the truth will prevail in this issue if we allow fair, transparent and impartial legal proceedings),” the senator reiterated.