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HomeHot TopicsLegal Hurdles Delay Teves' Homecoming: NBI Investigation Impacts Return Plans

Legal Hurdles Delay Teves’ Homecoming: NBI Investigation Impacts Return Plans

Ongoing legal proceedings stemming from the arrest of Arnolfo Teves Jr. in Timor-Leste on March 21 have compelled the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to depart the country without the ousted Negros Oriental lawmaker.

During a press briefing held on Monday, NBI Director Medardo de Lemos emphasized the necessity of respecting Timor-Leste’s judicial system, which could span from seven to 40 days. This period aligns with the efforts of the Philippine government to secure custody of Teves. Teves stands accused of involvement in the murder of his political rival Roel Degamo in the previous year, along with three other fatalities in Negros Oriental back in 2019.

The NBI is currently waiting for action from Teves’ legal team in Timor-Leste before proceeding with his deportation, according to statements made by officials.

Previously, Teves’ lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, had stated that Teves should be handed over to a Timorese court before the Philippine government officially requests his return, with the court then making the decision on this matter.

During discussions, NBI Chief De Lemos mentioned the agency’s recent mission to Timor-Leste beginning on March 21, where they collaborated with local authorities to enforce Interpol’s red notice on Teves. De Lemos stated that shortly after their arrival, they were informed of Teves’ apprehension by Timorese authorities.

However, challenges arose initially in confirming Teves’ identity and obtaining proof of his arrest, including the absence of mug shots and fingerprints taken by Timorese officials upon his apprehension.

After seeking permission from Timorese President José Ramos-Horta, the NBI was granted authorization on March 23 to photograph Teves. During this time, Teves expressed concerns about returning to the Philippines due to fears of potential repercussions.

The NBI team reassured Teves, promising the Timorese president that no harm would come to him if he chose to return to the Philippines.

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