DOJ chief tackles Teves 'handover' with Timor-Leste president

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 15) — The chief of the Department of Justice (DOJ) has brought up the possible handover of expelled Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. with Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta.

"I just told him that we will be filing the necessary information, the necessary letters, to his office to inform them formally of the charges pending against Mr. Teves," said Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla about his meeting with Ramos-Horta over the weekend.

"The duties of rendition are there and that under the United Nations agreement on terrorism, there is a duty for member-states to render unto the prosecuting country the body of any terrorist so that he may be held for trial," he added.

In law, rendition refers to the "surrender" or "handing over" of persons or property, typically from one jurisdiction to another.

Remulla said Ramos-Horta told him that he would wait for the documents. The Timor-Leste president arrived in the country last week for an official visit focused on strengthening bilateral ties.

Remulla said there are standing warrants against Teves as early as Oct. 4 over the 2019 killings in Negros Oriental.

A Manila court issued an arrest warrant against him in September over the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine others in Pamplona.

Teves flew to the US in late February for medical treatment, but the travel authority issued to him by the House of Representatives expired on March 9.

He was last reported to be in Timor-Leste, seeking political asylum, which the government rejected.

Pacquiao's 'frequent' visits

During his meeting with Ramos-Horta, Remulla said he was told that former senator and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao "was mentioned as among the frequent visitors" of the country.

"My attention was kinda called a bit when the name of Pacquiao was mentioned as being always within Timor Leste. And I still don't know what he does there," he said.

In September, reports of Pacquiao meeting Teves in Timor-Leste circulated online, which the DOJ described as only a "chance encounter."

"I would like to find out from the good senator if there is anything we can do to help him also since we are furthering our relations with Timor-Leste," Remulla added.

Pacquiao has yet to comment on Remulla's statement.