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DOJ: Teves extradition to happen late July

MANILA/TIMOR LESTE – Expelled Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr. is expected to be extradited to the Philippines late July despite his plan to appeal before the Timor-Leste courts,  the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

The Court of Appeals of Timor-Leste granted the Philippines’ extradition request against former congressman Teves Jr.

“The Department of Justice confirmed the grant of the extradition request made by the Philippine government. The information was relayed to us by the Attorney-General of Timor -Leste. We have won,” the DOJ said in a statement.

“We look forward to the arrival of Mr. Teves so that he may finally face the charges against him in our local courts,” it added.

Teves is facing 10 counts of murder, 12 counts of frustrated murder and four counts of attempted murder before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 51 in relation to the March 4, 2023 shootings in Pamplona, Negros Oriental.

Degamo’s widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, said she experienced “overwhelming emotions” after learning that Teves will be returned to the Philippines.

“My fight for justice has been a truly harrowing experience, with constant threats on my life by members of the Teves Terrorist Group, horrific online attacks from TTG trolls and continual sleepless nights grieving the memory of Roel,” she posted on Facebook. “But it was the memory of Roel and his undying love for his fellow NegOrenses that keeps pushing me to fight. I will not be silent as the men who murdered my husband continue to terrorize our province.”

Teves fled to Dili, Timor-Leste and applied for political asylum.

DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said Teves’ camp has 30 days to contest the decision of the Court of Appeals of Timor-Leste.

“So if they exhaust the 30 days, which we anticipate they will do, then it will be after the filing, we will see kung ano ang magiging desisyon ng [Timor-Leste] Court of Appeals (the decision of the Court of Appeals). Around the last week of July, makikita na natin si Ginoong Teves dito sa Pilipinas (we will see Mr. Teves back in the Philippines),” Clavano said.

Clavano said the Philippine government secured victory in the extradition case because Teves’ arguments were unfounded, particularly his assertions that he would face the supposed death penalty in the Philippines and that the country has unfavorable human rights conditions.

“We do not have a death penalty here in the Philippines. We also have had certain reforms and efforts in human rights, protection of human rights,” Clavano explained.

He believed the court would affirm its decision once the motion for reconsideration is filed by Teves’ camp.

“I think it’s high time that they face the cases of multiple murders in the Philippines,” Clavano said.

Teves’ legal counsel, Ferdinand Topacio, earlier said that the extradition decision is “still appealable” and a “recourse that we intend to take.”

“Then we still have the option of political asylum,” Topacio said.

Teves is facing 10 counts of murder, 12 counts of frustrated murder and four counts of attempted murder before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 51 in connection with the March 4, 2023 shootings in Pamplona, Negros Oriental.

He fled to Dili and applied for political asylum.

In March, he was arrested at a golf driving range.

Early this month, he was released from Becora Prison but was re-arrested and transferred to the Polícia Nacional of Timor-Leste.

In August last year, the Anti-Terrorism Council designated Teves and his younger brother, former Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves, as terrorists over their alleged involvement in several murder incidents and harassment in the province in the past years when they were still in public office.

Pryde Henry was likewise arrested in Barangay Taclobo, Dumaguete City on June 20 over his alleged involvement in terrorism activities. He posted bail of P600,000.

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