MANILA – Fugitive Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. is seeking asylum in Timor-Leste, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has learned from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla bared Tuesday the information relayed by the DFA in a letter dated April 29, saying Teves was spotted in the capital city Dili to apply for a protection visa.
In turn, Remulla wrote DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo on Monday to apprise him of the “concrete steps” to designate Teves as a terrorist.
The congressman has yet to return despite the expiration of his personal travel authority on March 9. His 60-day suspension in Congress is supposed to end May 22.
He is a suspect in several killings in the province and may even be included in the murder charges related to the killing of political rival Governor Roel Degamo on March 4.
“We wish to inform you that the department has taken concrete steps to designate Congressman Teves as a terrorist under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” Remulla said in his letter to Manalo.
The Anti-Terrorism Council convened a technical working group on May 4 to designate Teves as a terrorist.
Timor-Leste was granted observer status in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year and was allowed to join all meetings, including at the summit plenaries.
“All ASEAN Member States and external partners shall fully support Timor-Leste to achieve the milestones through the provision of capacity building assistance and any other necessary and relevant support for its full membership in ASEAN,” the organization said in a statement in November 2022.
The death toll in the Degamo assassination in Pamplona town rose to 10 after provincial government employee Fredilino Cafe Jr., 52, succumbed to complications on Sunday.
In April, Remulla said the pending charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against Teves are sufficient to buttress the government plan to designate him as a terrorist.
Criminal charges in connection with the deaths in Negros Oriental dating back to 2019 have also been filed against Teves.
At the time, Remulla said they received information of Teves sightings in Korea and Cambodia. (PNA)