Asylum still a remedy, Teves lawyer argues

Asylum still a remedy, Teves lawyer argues

By: - Reporter /
/ 05:48 AM March 31, 2024

Atty. Ferdinand Topacio

Atty. Ferdinand Topacio at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay, May 31, 2023 |  FILE PHOTO /Ryan Leagogo

The lawyer of expelled Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. on Saturday said safe refuge, political asylum and other such legal remedies were “still very much on the table” for his client who is currently under the custody of Timorese authorities.

“Due to its history as an oppressed people, the Timorese are quite heavy on human rights and denial of due process as well as a disapprobation of political persecution,” Teves’ lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said in a statement.

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Topacio visited Timor-Leste on March 28 to March 30 and had an “intensive and extensive” discussion with a lawyer there who discussed Timorese laws applicable to his client’s case.

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‘No illegal activity’

“I am now able to say with greater confidence that all that previous talk from the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and the DOJ (Department of Justice) of deportation and swift repatriation are nothing but pure and unadulterated balderdash,” Topacio said.

Timor-Leste’s Constitution is “very strict on due process of law,” which will be “applied unconditionally” to Teves, he said.

Citing information from law enforcement authorities in Timor-Leste, Topacio said intelligence officers had monitored the movements of Teves and “found no evidence of any activity related to terrorism, or any illegal activity at all, and [neither] was he in hiding.”

READ: Teves seeks political asylum after arrest in Timor-Leste, says lawyer

“I have also confirmed that Rep[resentative] Teves has not violated any laws while in Timor-Leste and that his detention was merely in compliance with procedural matters relating to Timor-Leste’s Interpol membership,” he added.

Teves, who was charged with multiple murder in connection with the killing last year of his political rival Roel Degamo and nine others, was arrested in Timor-Leste on March 21 while playing golf, according to the DOJ.

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Assistant Justice Secretary Jose Dominic Clavano IV said the Philippine government is working out with Timor-Leste the return of Teves, either through deportation or extradition. But Topacio warned that it could take a while before his client could be returned home since his case must first be presented before a Timorese court.

The expelled lawmaker and his bodyguard Marvin Miranda were charged with the murders at Degamo’s home in Pamplona town on March 4, 2023.

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TAGS: Arnolfo Teves Jr., asylum

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