Suspended Rep. Teves eyeing asylum in Timor Leste, says DOJ chief
MANILA, Philippines — Suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. is in Timor Leste (East Timor) seeking asylum, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Tuesday.
“Mr. Teves entered Timor Leste a week ago trying to seek special asylum status, and we have written a letter telling Timor-Leste that he is a person of interest in murder cases and he is being considered for designation as a terrorist,” Remulla said.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) was informed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of Teves’ location.
DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo, in a letter dated April 29, told Remulla that based on information from the Philippine Ambassador to Timor Leste, Teves applied for a protection visa with the intent of seeking asylum.
Remulla, in response to Manalo, said they are taking concrete steps to designate Teves Jr. as a terrorist under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“[I] already requested the Anti-Terrorism Council to create a technical working group (TWG) for this purpose,” Remulla said, adding that the TWG had its first meeting last May 4.
“It is respectfully requested that these latest updates be related to our good Ambassador to Timor Leste,” Remulla said.
Remulla is confident that Teves’ bid for asylum will be denied.
”There is a special provision in law if that if you want to seek asylum it is usually just for political purposes but we don’t see any reason for him to seek asylum in Timor Leste,” Remulla said, adding that they are in coordination with their counterparts in other countries to ensure that Manila is fully informed if the suspended lawmaker enterstheir jurisdiction.
He said Teves’ move to seek asylum in Timor Leste only showed that he is afraid to return to the country and face investigation on Degamo’s killing.
“It’s really for not wanting to face the consequences of certain actions by which he is being held to account for in our courts of law,” he explained.
Aside from being accused of masterminding the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, he is also facing multiple murder complaints before the DOJ for the 2019 killing of former Negros Oriental Board Member Miguel Dungog and two others, as well as complaints of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Teves already denied involvement in the killings. He also said that his life would be in danger once he returned to the country.