Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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FIRING LINE: Teves homecoming

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

He may not be zoomed back into the Philippines this week after his arrest in Dili, East Timor, but the world of disgraced and expelled congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr. is getting smaller.

With his evasion of justice stretching to hideaways abroad for months, Teves has finally been put to a halt and has become a study for how international mechanisms can reach even the most elusive of fugitives — even without an extradition treaty between the country where he is hunted and the country where he’s been holding out.

Arrested through collaboration between Interpol’s National Central Bureau in Dili and the Timorese police, Teves can no longer be a stickler for inequity. Avenues for his return to face prosecution for murders in the Philippines are now being explored through international agreements that Timor Leste may honor — if not through bilateral treaties, then by the interconnectedness of global law enforcement policies.

As discussions ensue regarding the most expedient means of bringing him back to the Philippines, it becomes evident that the long arm of the law knows no bounds.

This development sends a clear message to other fugitives: no matter where you hide, the international community is united in its pursuit of justice. It is only fitting for nations to tighten their grip on transnational criminals and make the world an increasingly hostile environment for those seeking refuge in foreign lands after sowing terror elsewhere.

I never thought I’d say this — but I am pretty excited to see Teves back in the country. 

Everything must go!

Everything built to desecrate the Chocolate Hills must go! The revelation of yet another resort — this time, in Carmen town within the Chocolate Hills — Bud Agta, flouting laws to exploit this natural wonder is a disgusting testament to greed and incompetence.

Carmen’s mayor, Conchita delos Reyes, might appear to offer feeble excuses for granting this new structure a permit in 2023, but this exposes the real rot in governance: an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) was first issued to its developer, and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) had also allowed such a certificate.

The Chocolate Hills, a symbol of national pride and ecological significance, now stand scarred by spiraling staircases and commercial ventures masquerading as eco-tourism. But we clearly see through this exploitation of protected areas as a necessity of profit and greed. 

It is an affront to decency and a betrayal of future generations, who have an equal stake in this natural wonder of the world.

The Departments of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Tourism (DOT) are now scrambling to make things right. But the systemic failure, exemplified by the connivance of authorities in permitting the desecration of these hills, is shameful and criminal. 

Ombudsman Samuel Martires wanting legal steps to hold the guilty in government accountable should be complemented by efforts by the Department of Justice also to hold greedy business people — who think they can stuff pockets to do what they will to alter what God Himself has created and what reasonable men have protected — locked up in jail.

Only this way can we close this festering wound that decays our senses for right over wrong. We need a reckoning — a wholesale rejection of this culture of exploitation of our natural treasures and a commitment to genuine conservation.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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