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Philippines waiting for Timor-Leste decision on Teves extradition

Nillicent Bautista - The Philippine Star
Philippines waiting for Timor-Leste decision on Teves extradition
This photo shows a picture of expelled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr. being arrested by Timor-Leste law enforcement in Dili, East Timor.
Polícia Científica e de Investigação Criminal / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines —  The Department of Justice (DOJ) is only waiting for the Timor-Leste Court of Appeals to decide on Manila’s request for extradition of expelled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr.

The country’s extradition request has passed through “first screening” at the Timor-Leste Ministry of Justice, DOJ spokesman Mico Clavano said at a press conference.

“The (Timor-Leste) Court of Appeals will decide whether to deport, extradite or transfer former Congressman Teves back to the Philippines,” he added.

The deadline for a decision by the Court of Appeals is set on June 20 but the decision could be released earlier than the scheduled date, according to Clavano.

For the part of the Philippine government, Clavano said they are “ready” and will execute the decision of the Timor-Leste government as soon as the latter has decided on the request.

Teves was arrested in East Timor while playing golf at the Top Golf Driving Range and Bar in March.

He is facing murder charges over the assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo on March 4, 2023.

He is also facing several other charges in connection with a series of killings in 2019.

Transfer of Quiboloy cases

The camp of pastor Apollo Quiboloy, meanwhile, is planning to ask the Supreme Court (SC) to reconsider the transfer of his cases from Davao City to Quezon City.

The SC earlier granted the request of the DOJ to transfer Quiboloy’s child and sexual abuse cases to “avoid the miscarriage of justice.”

In its administrative order released on Tuesday, the SC Second Division said they “found compelling reasons to justify the transfer of venue as the cases involve public interest.”

The SC also cited Quiboloy’s influence in Davao City, which could “cause local biases and a strong possibility that witnesses cannot freely testify due to fear and influence of the accused.”

In explaining their plan to file a petition for the reversal of the SC order, Quiboloy’s lawyer Israelito Torreon said there may have been “a violation of due process” as they never heard about the matter.

He added that the order may even be interpreted as “an attack on the judiciary” as it was based on unsubstantiated claims of bias in Davao City courts.

“It was decided based only on the unfounded and unsubstantiated claims of bias in Davao City courts which, if analyzed properly, may actually constitute a slight on the local courts in Davao City,” Torreon said.

“(It) may be interpreted as an attack on the judiciary as a whole as such claims tend to diminish the confidence of the public on our judicial system just because of locational concerns,” he added.

Tarreon also noted that the transfer of case would “add a great burden” to the six accused because of the” financial costs, hassles and inconvenience that will ensue upon them.”

“However, if they (SC) will stick to their ruling then we will, of course, abide,” he added.

For her part, SC spokesperson Camille Ting said the Office of the Court Administrator dispensed some of the requirements on the transfer of cases “in view of the urgent nature of the request and the involvement of public interest,” according to GMA News.

Aside from his cases in Davao City, Quiboloy is facing the non-bailable offense of qualified human trafficking before a Pasig City court.

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