Negros Oriental

Timor-Leste denies Teves asylum bid – DFA

Ryan Macasero

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Timor-Leste denies Teves asylum bid – DFA

TASK FORCE. The Joint Task Force Degamo led by Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, Secretary of Justice Jesus Crispin Remulla and Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., hold a press briefing at Camp Crame on April 3, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

(1ST UPDATE) Southeast Asian nation Timor-Leste gives suspended Congressman Arnie Teves, who is being linked to the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, five days to leave the country

MANILA, Philippines – Timor-Leste has denied the application of suspended Negros Oriental lawmaker Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves for asylum in its country, said the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs has received information from the Philippine Embassy in Timor-Leste that Representative Arnolfo Teves, Jr. is currently in Dili, where he submitted an application for political asylum,” the DFA said in a statement released at 10 pm on Tuesday, May 9.

“Today, the Ministry of Interior of Timor-Leste confirmed that Representative Teves’ application for political asylum has been denied,” it added.

According to the DFA, Teves was given five days to leave Timor Leste. “During this time, he also has the option to file an appeal regarding the decision,” the DFA said.

Teves’ presence in Timor-Leste was confirmed earlier Tuesday by Department of Justice Secretary Boying Remulla.

Teves has been out of the country since February 2023 and refused to return after being linked to the assassination of the late Governor Roel Degamo in March 2023.

Ten people were killed in the deadly attack, with 16 others injured as of Tuesday, May 9, after it was reported that a survivor died of a gunshot wound over two months after the incident. (READ: Death toll in Degamo attack rises to 10 as another victim dies)

Teves initially flew to the United States prior to the Degamo slaying purportedly for “medical reasons.” Previously, the DOJ said that he was allegedly in Cambodia end of March and early April.

During the April 17 Senate hearing, the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, which was holding an inquiry into Negros Oriental killings, said Teves was spotted in South Korea.

Remulla has called Teves the “producer” or the person who funded and helped mastermind the attack.

The justice secretary initially said the NBI would file murder complaints against Teves on the first week of May, but these have not yet been filed as Remulla was out of the country.

On the murder complaints, Remulla said there were a “few more details being ironed out.”

“We were about to file the cases with a few more details being ironed out but anytime the case can be filed,” Remulla told reporters in a chance interview in a mix of Filipino and English on Tuesday, May 9.

“At the latest, possibly, Monday but we are trying to do it by Friday. I am asking them if they can expedite the filing because it’s been more than two months since the murders; might as well file the cases if they can already,” Remulla added.

Teves has denied any connection to the Degamo killing and said he would not return to the country due to “safety reasons.”

He is wanted in connection to murder complaints filed in 2019 for three separate killings in Negros Oriental province.

Why it matters

Political killings are commonplace in the Philippines, but it’s rare for an incumbent governor – even in the most politically volatile provinces – to be assassinated in his own home in broad daylight, with ordinary citizens caught in the crossfire of the attack.

The brazen attack, widely known as the “Pamplona massacre,” brought national attention to the long-running problem of unsolved killings in Negros Island. It stirred conversations on ending impunity and protecting human rights in Negros Oriental, issues that had rarely been talked about in the province.

The Senate committee on dangerous drugs and public order held marathon hearings to investigate the Degamo assassination and other Negros Oriental killings from April 17 to 19. They heard from dozens of families of victims of unsolved killings, survivors, and police. (READ: Victims detail Negros Oriental ‘reign of terror’ on 2nd day of Degamo inquiry)

The Senate inquiry, chaired by Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, is set to continue on Wednesday, May 10. –

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Nobuhiko Matsunaka


Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at