Marcos thanks Timor Leste for 'quick action' on Teves asylum
MANILA (UPDATE)— Suspended House Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. has asked the Timor-Leste Immigration Service to reconsider its earlier ruling denying his asylum plea, according to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.
Remulla made the disclosure to the media Thursday after being asked about Teves’ whereabouts.
“Nasa Timor-Leste pa rin, asking for reconsideration,” he said, citing a text message he received from the Philippine Embassy in the country.
“Basta Philippine Embassy, not the Ambassador,” he added.
It was Remulla himself who revealed earlier this week that Teves is in Timor-Leste seeking asylum.
But his asylum bid was denied, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday night.
Teves was given 5 days to leave Timor-Leste. It is not immediately clear if this deadline will be affected with the filing of the appeal.
“Well, the 5-day period to leave, unless extended, is a 5-day period to leave,” he said.
Asked if Teves hired a lawyer to process his asylum, Remulla said “maybe he’s the one.”
The Justice chief said they are posing a “continuing objection.”
“I said the same thing to the Cambodian ambassador before, noong una naming nalaman na he was trying to seek refuge in Cambodia, we also said the same thing to the Cambodian ambassador. Ganun din. We tell them that it’s a local case, it’s a celebrated case. It’s in the headlines of the media. It’s easy to Google, it’s easy to search. It’s easy to validate and verify. It’s under investigation by the NBI, we have complete press briefings on this matter and of course, public briefings,” he added.
Based on the website of Timor-Leste’s Immigration Service, the country grants the right of asylum to:
- foreigners and stateless persons persecuted or is guaranteed seriously threatened of persecution in result of activity performed in State of nationality or habitual residence in favor of democracy, social and national liberation, peace among peoples, freedom and rights of the human person
- foreigners and stateless persons who, fearing justifiably be persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, are unable or, owing such fear, unwilling to return to the State of nationality or residence habitual
Remulla had said there’s no basis to grant asylum since the issue is not political persecution but prosecution.
He reiterated that the murder complaints against Teves would be filed with the Department of Justice either on Friday or on Monday.
Meanwhile, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Thursday advised Teves to just return to the Philippines after his political asylum request was denied.
At the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Indonesia, Marcos also thanked Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak for the denial of the asylum bid.
“In denying his request for political asylum then we are going closer in the case to bring him back home to face the allegations that have been made [against him]. But again, we thank you for your very quick response in that regard,” Marcos said during their bilateral meeting, as quoted by the Palace.
When asked for advice for the lawmaker, he said: “Come home. That's the best advice I can give him. Come home.”
PASSPORT CANCELLATION — GROUND FOR GRAFT?
Remulla pushed back against the suggestion from Teves’ lawyer Ferdinand Topacio that the planned cancellation of Teves’ passports could be a ground for a graft case.
“Mag-file sila ng kaso kung gusto nila mag-file. Mahirap dyan yung talk na walang ginagawa,” he added.
Teves is accused of masterminding the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and 9 others in his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental on March 4.
The lawmaker said he and his clan had nothing to do with the killing.
— With reports from Job Manahan and Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News