INDONESIA – House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the denial of Rep. Arnolfo Teves’ asylum application may be tackled in the upcoming bilateral meeting between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Timor Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak in the 42nd ASEAN Summit and related meetings here.
Romualdez made the statement after the Department of Justice said Teves was in Timor-Leste and had applied “for a protection visa with the intent of asylum.”
The Southeast Asian nation, however, has rejected his application and ordered him to leave the country in five days since Teves has been tagged as the alleged mastermind in the murder of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.
In an interview with the reporters, the House Speaker believed Marcos was equally concerned about Teves’ situation.
“We are also interested in the developments and his current situation in Timor Leste. From what we know, he applied for political asylum, which was denied yesterday. We have confirmed this information tonight (Wednesday),” he said.
However, Romualdez clarified that he was still determining if the President had conversations about this matter on the sidelines.
When asked if the President will ask the head of Timor Leste to “produce” Teves or ask him to come back to the Philippines, Romualdez said: “Well, I don’t know if he will ask to produce him because he’s already in Timor Leste and we are aware of that.”
Romualdez also clarified that the President would not ask Timor Leste to bring Teves back to the Philippines because there is no extradition treaty between the two countries. Instead, Teves has less than a week to leave Timor Leste.
The House Speaker also said there are three options for the congressman: To return to the Philippines and face the charges against him; continue defying orders and face further sanctions; or move to another country.
He urged Teves to return home and face justice, adding that the rights and privileges of a congressman are not meant to be used to evade justice.
“So Cong. Arnie Teves, umuwi ka na (go home) and face the music and let the justice take its course,” Romualdez said.
In a separate statement, Romualdez warned Teves that “another possible disciplinary action” may be imposed against him if he refuses to return to the Philippines after his 60-day suspension.
The House Speaker also called on Teves anew to “return home immediately and face the accusation against him” instead of evading investigation in the Philippines.”
“Should Cong. Arnie continues to defy the return to work order after the lapse of the 60-day period of his suspension, the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges may be constrained to reconvene and consider another possible disciplinary action against him,” Romualdez said.
“This is our recourse in order to preserve the dignity, integrity, and reputation of the House of Representatives,” he added.
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