Teves released from Timor Leste detention, DOJ denies

Teves released from Timor Leste detention, DOJ denies
Former Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. (File Photo)

FORMER Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. was released but later re-arrested amid his ongoing extradition proceedings in Timor Leste.

In a statement, Teves’ legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio said the former lawmaker was released from preventive detention “because the request for extradition by the Philippines Government was made out of time and in a manner that is not sanctioned by practice and customary international law.”

“In other words, our government 'screwed up'. Thus, his imprisonment was declared illegal,” Topacio added.

In response, Department of Justice spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano said Teves was released but was immediately re-arrested as part of Timor-Leste government's process.

He belied Topacio’s claim that the DOJ messed up as he maintained that the agency was able to submit all requirements ahead of time and in a manner fully compliant with Timor Leste's law.

"His (Teves) release and subsequent re-arrest should not be taken as hindrance to the process but simply a part of it. We appreciate the steps currently being undertaken by the Timor Leste government to remove him from their territory and we eagerly anticipate his return to the Philippines so he can face the multiple murder charges," said Clavano.

"Thus, the statements of Atty. Topacio are misleading, highly irresponsible and an insult to both countries. He ought to know that while he owes fealty to his client, he remains an officer of the court and must act accordingly to maintain its majesty and integrity," he added.

In another statement, Topacio stood by his earlier statement that Teves “was in point of fact and law released from detention.”

“I'm here in Dili and I was presented with the order of the court, and my colleagues in Timor Leste who speak Portuguese apprised me of the ratio decidendi of the decision (written in Portuguese, the official language of Timor Leste) to the effect that the detention of Representative Teves was illegal because the extradition request of the Philippines, in legal parlance, was one big camoteng cajoy na may ulalo pa,” he said.

“So there was nothing misleading about my statement. Teves was in point of fact and law, released from detention. Pwede kong isalpak sa mukha niya yung order pagdating ko,” he added.

Teves, who is facing multiple murder charges in the country in relation to the execution of Negros Oriental Province Governor Roel Degamo in March 2023, was arrested in Timor Leste in March 21, a month after he was placed on the red notice of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) upon the request of the DOJ.

Aside from Degamo’s killing which also resulted to the death of 11 innocent individuals, Teves also has a standing arrest warrant over the killing of several individuals in the province since 2019.

Teves was also designated as a terrorist by the Anti-Terrorism Council while his passport was cancelled also in the orders of the DOJ.

The expelled lawmaker had repeatedly denied accusations linking him to the murder incidents and he also refused to go back to the country despite the calls from government officials including President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. himself due to threats against his life. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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