Teves ‘release from detention’ in Timor Leste not false – lawyer

MANILA, Philippines—Arnolfo Teves Jr.’s legal counsel stood firm on his statement that his client has been released from detention in Timor Leste, asserting there was “nothing misleading” about it.

Atty. Ferdinand Topacio said he was presented with a court order “to the effect that the detention of Rep. Teves was illegal because the extradition request of the PH, in legal parlance, was one big camoteng cajoy na may ulalo pa (cassava with worm).”

“So, there was nothing misleading about my statement. Rep. Teves was, in point of fact and law, released from detention,” he insisted.

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READ: Teves released from detention in Timor-Leste, says his lawyer

Topacio’s remarks were his response to Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Secretary Jose Clavano IV’s statement on Monday that Teves was released but was rearrested in Timor-Leste.

The DOJ likewise said the Philippine government followed Timorese law in submitting a request for the extradition of Teves, who used to represent Negros Oriental at the House of Representatives. Teves was expelled from the lower chamber in 2023 on several grounds, including abandonment of public office and indecent behavior.

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

READ: Teves rearrested, says DOJ

In March, Teves was arrested in Timor-Leste while playing golf as the International Criminal Police Organization placed him under its red notice.

His arrest was in connection with his alleged involvement in the March 2023 killing of former Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and nine others.

In a message to Inquirer.net, Clavano appealed to Topacio to let Teves face the Philippine court for the sake of justice.

“Iharap nalang niya kliyente niya dito sa korte sa Pilipinas. Kawawa ang mga inosenteng taong namatay. Kawawa ang mga pamilya ng mga victims. Kelangan natin makuha ang hustisya sa kaso na ito. Hindi tayo pwedeng tumigil,” Clavano said.

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(He should let his client face the Philippine court. The innocent people who died are pitiful. The families of the victims are also miserable. We need to obtain justice in this case. We cannot stop.)

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