Arnie Teves

Arnie Teves set to return to PH as Timor-Leste grants extradition plea

Jairo Bolledo

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Arnie Teves set to return to PH as Timor-Leste grants extradition plea

WANTED. Fugitive Congressman Arnolfo 'Arnie' Teves.

Screengrab from Arnie Teves Jr.'s Facebook page.

(1st UPDATE) The Department of Justice has yet to announce the date of expelled fugitive lawmaker Arnie Teves Jr.'s arrival

MANILA, Philippines — Expelled fugitive lawmaker Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. will return to the Philippines after Timor-Leste granted the Philippine government’s request for extradition.

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) confirms 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,” DOJ spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano said on Thursday, June 27.

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

The DOJ has yet to announce the date of Teves’ arrival.

Teves is currently in the Southeast Asian country after refusing to come back after the assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo last year. There, the former Negros Oriental lawmaker was arrested, as he faces arrest in the Philippines for being the alleged mastermind behind Degamo’s killing.

The expelled congressman, who is part of the influential Teves clan of Negros, also faces another case over killings in his home province in 2019.

While in Timor-Leste, Teves applied for political asylum but was denied. In March, he was arrested by the International Police (Interpol) National Central Bureau and the Timorese police. He was on the International Police’s red notice alert.

In ensuring Teves’ return to the country to face his alleged crimes, the Philippine government banked on the extradition process. The Philippines has no direct extradition treaty with Timor-Leste, but the government instead used the framework of the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, to which both the Philippines and Timor-Leste are signatories.

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EXPLAINER: What happens to Arnie Teves after arrest in Timor-Leste?

EXPLAINER: What happens to Arnie Teves after arrest in Timor-Leste?
Lengthy process

The extradition process of the Teves case took some time. The fugitive expelled lawmaker was arrested in March, but the Timorese Court of Appeals only concluded the extradition hearing on June 18. 

On June 13, Teves was put in house arrest after being under Timorese authorities’ custody. Although in house arrest, he was put under 24-hour security, with only family members permitted to visit him. 

When Teves was temporarily released, his lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, claimed that his client was released from detention because the government “screwed up,” alleging that the Philippines filed its extradition request out of time. 

However, the DOJ was quick to correct Topacio’s claims and explained that Teves had been immediately rearrested by the Timor-Leste police as the Philippines continued to work on his extradition. The DOJ explained that what happened was a procedural release and that Teves was immediately taken into custody by the Timorese police “to continue to stand trial for his anticipated extradition.”

Just last Saturday, the DOJ announced that Teves was released from house arrest because under Timorese laws, a fugitive like Teves could only be detained for a maximum of 90 days. Despite his release from house arrest, the expelled lawmaker is still under the monitoring of Timorese security forces. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.