'We’re working on it': DOJ says on expelled solon Teves’ extradition

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
'We�re working on it': DOJ says on expelled solon Teves� extradition
This screengrab shows of Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr.
Congressman Arnie A. Teves / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it is working on extraditing expelled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr. after a Manila court ordered the cancellation of his passport.

In a press briefing on Monday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the Philippine government are in discussions with the government of East Timor, where the solon was reportedly last seen.

“We just had to wait for the [Manila] court to cancel the passport, to show it's not just a political matter, it's not even a political matter but a criminal justice matter. That's why his right to travel has been impaired because the courts have already canceled the passport based on the cases already pending before our courts on Teves,” Remulla said.

On February 8, the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 51 ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to revoke Teves' passport due to his designation as a terrorist by the Anti-Terrorism Council and charges related to financing terrorism.

Teves’ passport cancellation is also “deemed final and executory,” according to Remulla, as the lawmaker has not appeared before the court to appeal the verdict.

"He has no personality to even appear in court to ask for reconsideration. That's why we consider it final and executory. Hindi pa siya nagsa-submit sa jurisdiction ng court, that's become a more or less unilateral effort on our part," he said.

(He has not even appeared in court to request reconsideration. That's why we consider it final and executory. Since he has not submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, it has become more or less a unilateral effort on our part.)

Upon the revocation of Teves' passport, he will be barred from traveling to any country and will be obligated to return to the Philippines to address the charges against him.

Teves’ lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, previously said that they would exhaust all legal remedies to reverse the decision of the Manila court. 

Remulla added that they are collaborating with the DFA and consulting with the Executive Secretary regarding the extradition of Teves.

“We're working on it because the court's decision is there already so there is no way he can travel unless he's granted asylum in another country, or given travel documents recognized by other countries in spite of the blue notice on his person," Remulla said.

The DOJ previously announced that the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has issued two alert list orders against Teves. These orders aim to limit his movements and assist in his arrest through international cooperation. 

The orders require all BI officers to inform the Philippine National Police or the National Bureau of Investigation of any information regarding Teves' movements or attempts to enter or exit the country.

The alert list was based on a court warrant dated in September 2023, which was issued in connection with the alleged murder of former Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine others, along with the Interpol blue notice published on February 19. 

The blue notice, according to Remulla, is expected to be elevated to a “red notice,” considering that Teves is already considered “undocumented.”

Philstar.com has reached out to Topacio for comment but he has yet to reply. 

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