The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has officially labeled suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. and his armed organization as terrorists.

This decision comes after an extensive investigation into the activities of the “Teves Terrorist Group,” which has allegedly been involved in multiple violent incidents causing harm to the residents of Negros Oriental.

In a press statement released on Tuesday, the ATC justified its action, stating that it was based on compelling evidence and factual incidents.

Negros Oriental has experienced a series of killings, threats, and harassment that have instilled fear and significantly impacted the personal lives and liberties of its inhabitants it said.

One notable incident mentioned by the ATC occurred on March 4, 2023, when individuals disguised as military personnel, including a former member of the New People’s Army, armed with high-powered weapons, stormed the residence of then governor Roel Degamo.

Tragically, nine people, including Governor Degamo, lost their lives instantly, and another individual succumbed to injuries two months later. Moreover, 18 others sustained injuries during the attack.

The investigations carried out by law enforcement agencies revealed a well-defined organizational structure within the Teves Terrorist Group, with Rep. Teves identified as the leader and mastermind.

Other key members, such as Pryde Henry Teves and Nigel Electona, were found to provide material support to the group.

Additionally, Hannah Mae Symero Oray was purportedly handling operational funds, while Marvin H. Miranda was allegedly involved in organizing and recruiting personnel for specific terrorist attacks.

After a thorough examination of the presented evidence, the ATC concluded that there is probable cause to designate Teves and his armed group as terrorists under Sections 4, 6, 10, and 12 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. These sections pertain to offenses related to terrorism, planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of terrorist acts, as well as recruitment and membership in a terrorist organization and providing material support to terrorists.

The ATC emphasized that this designation is a significant step towards addressing the presence of private armed groups within the country and serves as a clear message against their proliferation. It also marks progress in holding accountable those responsible for perpetrating acts of terrorism and violence, thus contributing to the fight against impunity. (ai/mnm)