Rep. Arnie Teves (left) and counsel Atty. Ferdinand Topacio

The legal representative of suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves said Thursday he is preparing to lodge an appeal against the classification of his client as a “terrorist.”

In an interview, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio conveyed his determination to contest the government’s characterization of Teves, which was attributed to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Topacio argued that the government has been unduly focused on Teves ever since the murder of former Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo and several others in March.

“Our commitment lies in pursuing all available legal avenues, as it is my professional responsibility and heartfelt conviction that my client [Teves] is untainted by these allegations,” Topacio emphasized.

He continued, “A grave offense cannot be mitigated by prosecuting an innocent individual. It appears that from the outset, the government’s attention has been singularly fixated on Rep. Teves.”

Topacio brought attention to a witness who asserted the existence of another mastermind behind Degamo’s murder, alleging that Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla had dismissed this testimony without due consideration.

“Some time ago, a different individual came forward, indicating the presence of an alternate mastermind. How did the Secretary of Justice respond? The testimony was promptly disregarded without any form of inquiry,” Topacio remarked.

“The prospects for justice within the Department of Justice seem bleak, given that the Secretary of Justice, who holds oversight and administrative authority over all prosecutors, hastily concluded that Teves was the mastermind. Under these circumstances, how can the prosecutors arrive at a contrary conclusion? To exonerate Teves, they would essentially need to challenge the Secretary of Justice’s stance. However, which prosecutor would willingly take that risk at the potential expense of their career?” Topacio questioned.

Teves stands accused of allegedly orchestrating the murder of Degamo in March.

He has been absent from the House of Representatives since departing for the United States earlier this year.

Although the House suspended him, the suspension’s effectiveness has since elapsed. (AI/MNM)