By Marita Moaje

Former Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday said it remains hopeful that former Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr. would soon be extradited to the country after he was re-arrested in Timor Leste.

“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,” DOJ spokesperson Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic Clavano IV said in a news release.

Clavano, meanwhile, denied claims of Teves’ counsel Ferdinand Topacio claimed that the former lawmaker has been provisionally released from Becora Prison in Dili, Timor Leste pending his extradition trial after the Timor Leste Court allegedly declared his imprisonment illegal.

He described these claims as “purely misleading, highly irresponsible, and an insult to both countries, Timor Leste and the Philippines.”

Clavano said the release and subsequent re-arrest of Teves from prison and his transfer to the Polícia Nacional of Timor Leste (PNTL) should not be taken as a hindrance, as it is part of the country’s judicial process.

He also maintained that the DOJ has submitted all requirements ahead of time and in a manner fully compliant with Timor Leste’s law.

“He (Topacio) 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 said.

Teves is now under the custody of the PNTL and he will continue to stand trial for his anticipated extradition, he said.

Clavano said the Philippines, as the requesting party, must respect and participate in the legal proceedings of Timor Leste.

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

The former lawmaker is facing 10 counts of murder, 12 counts of frustrated murder, and four counts of attempted murder before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 51 in relation to the March 4, 2023 shootings in Pamplona town, Negros Oriental. (PNA)