Philippine awaits Timor Leste decision on Teves

Daphne Galvez - The Philippine Star
Philippine awaits Timor Leste decision on Teves
This screengrab shows of Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr.
Facebook / Congressman Arnie A. Teves

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) is still awaiting the decision of Timor Leste on the fate of expelled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr., who is wanted by authorities over the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.

“Let’s give due respect to the courts of Timor Leste. They are a sovereign country with their own systems. As of now, we can only confirm that we are awaiting their decision,” DOJ spokesman Mico Clavano said on May 21.

He added that the Philippine government is “following all the right processes and hopes for a favorable outcome.”

Clavano issued the remark following reports that Teves would soon be deported out of Timor Leste after his application for political asylum was denied.

Teves’ extradition to Manila is being worked out by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) through the Philippine embassy in Dili, while another route is also being undertaken by the Interpol national central bureaus in Dili.

The DFA, however, clarified that it has no information yet on the political asylum bid of Teves.

“I have no news yet on what’s happening there,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo told reporters in a chance interview yesterday.

The camp of Teves likewise denied reports that the former lawmaker would soon be deported, saying it does not have any information on the status of the asylum request.

“I am in constant touch with his lawyers in TL who are on top of his legal affairs therein, and as of this writing, we do not have any information on the status of the asylum request, much less that it has been denied,” Ferdinand Topacio, Teves’ legal counsel, said in a statement on May 21.

He added that the denial of an asylum application is still subject to appeal and that the law provides a transitional period of 20 days.

“In Mr. Teves’ case, we have every intention to appeal. The information is thus erroneous and, to borrow from Kipling, ‘twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools’,” he added.

Should Teves’ asylum be granted, he would no longer need to be extradited or deported back to the Philippines.

The expelled lawmaker applied for asylum in Timor Leste in 2023. However, in May last year, the DFA said the application was denied.

Teves then sought for reconsideration, according to the DOJ.

While playing golf, Teves was arrested in March by Timor Leste police based on a red notice or warrant issued by Interpol, which hunted him for the March 2023 murder of Degamo, along with nine others.

Aside from the murder of Degamo, Teves and others have also been charged with the deaths of three individuals in Negros Oriental in 2019. — Michael Punongbayan

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