Lawyer weighs in on Teves case


A LEGAL expert said on Sunday that former Philippine congressman Arnolfo A. Teves, Jr. may be qualified for political asylum in Timor-Leste if he proves that his fundamental rights had been violated in his home country.

National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) president Ephraim B. Cortez told BusinessWorldvia Viber that Mr. Teves, who is wanted for multiple murder charges in the Philippines, may try to convince Timor-Leste authorities that “he is being subjected to certain legal processes, not because he actually committed any crime, but he was singled out” either because of religion, race, ideology or political beliefs – all of which are his fundamental rights.

“They (Mr. Teves’ camp) have to prove that [he is politically persecuted], although he is charged with serious common crimes here, the motive is political,” Mr. Cortez said.

Earlier, Mr. Teves’ legal counsel, Ferdinand Topacio, said they will exhaust legal avenues such as “safe refuge, political asylum, non-rendition, and other remedies of similar nature” to avoid his repatriation.

Mr. Topacio underscored that his client is not considered a terrorist in Timor Leste, citing alleged surveillance by local authorities who supposedly found that there was “no evidence of any activity related to terrorism, or any illegal activity at all, and nor was he in hiding.”

However, Mr. Cortez said there are other “legal considerations” which may be used to facilitate a speedy deportation proceeding against Mr. Teves, who is now detained in Timor-Leste on the strength of a Red Notice issued by the International Police (Interpol) last February.

Mr. Teves is wanted in the Philippines for allegedly masterminding the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel R. Degamo last year in which five other people were killed as well as three separate murders in the previous year, among other crimes. — Chloe Mari A. Hufana