Teves rearrested after release in Timor-Leste -- DOJ

Expelled Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo “Arnie” A. Teves Jr. remains in the custody of Timor-Leste authorities after being rearrested following his release, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Monday, June 19.

“As an update, the Polícia Nacional of Timor-Leste (PNTL) has taken him into custody to continue to stand trial for his anticipated extradition,” said DOJ Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV in a statement..

“The Department is confident that the extradition proceedings will be successful. In addition, the former congressman may also still be deported depending on the direction taken by the Timor-Leste government in coordination with the Philippines,” he said. 

The DOJ issued the statement in response to the announcement made also on Monday by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, the legal counsel of Teves, that the expelled legislator has been released from preventive detention in Timor-Leste.

Topacio claimed that Teves was allowed to be released because the Timor-Leste authorities found that the extradition request of the Philippine government was “made out of time and in a manner that is not sanctioned by practice and customary international law.”

Clavano said “the statements of Atty. Topacio are misleading, highly irresponsible and an insult to both countries.”

“He ought to know that while he owes fealty to his client, he remains an officer of the court and must act accordingly to maintain its majesty and integrity,” Clavano pointed out. 

He also explained that the release and subsequent rearrest of Teves was “part of the country’s process.

The DOJ, Clavano said "was able to submit all requirements ahead of time and in a manner fully compliant with Timor-Leste’s law."

He said the Philippine government, as the requesting party seeking the extradition of Teves, will  “respect and participate in the legal proceedings of Timor-Leste underscoring the sovereignty of each country.”

“Teves' release and subsequent rearrest should not be taken as hindrance to the process but simply a part of it,” he said.  

“We appreciate the steps currently being undertaken by the Timor-Leste government to remove Teves from their territory and we eagerly anticipate his return to the Philippines so he can face the multiple murder charges,” he added.