Remulla to Teves: Return home and appear in court
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Remulla to Teves: Return home and appear in court

This photo shows expelled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr. arrested by East Timorese law enforcement in Dili, East Timor.

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla yesterday urged expelled Negros Oriental Congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr. to quit his foolish games and return home to face charges in Philippine courts.

Remulla issued the statement in response to Teves’ open letter to the United Nations, foreign human rights organizations and Pope Francis asking for their intercession in preventing his repatriation to the Philippines.

“He should just appear in court and answer the charges honestly,” Remulla said. “Teves is a convicted terrorist and a fugitive from justice.”

Remulla said Teves’ claims of persecution and threats to life are “imaginary and a stalling tactic.”

Nevertheless, Remulla assured Teves that the Philippine government had provided him with protection.

“Prove us wrong that you are not merely employing tactics to delay or circumvent the rule of law by presenting “real” and “existing” evidence that Teves’ life is in danger, otherwise submit to the jurisdiction of the Philippines. Time is of the essence, knowing that there are victims crying out for justice,” Remulla said.

He also denied claims that the Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped the case brought against Teves in connection with the murder of Governor Roel Degamo, despite allegedly disowning the suspects.

The head of the Justice Department said that resolving this issue in a full trial was within the court’s competence.

“A retraction does not necessarily weaken the case if there is other evidence to support the original statement. Moreover, backtracking is not welcome in our justice system,” he said.

A letter from Teves is allegedly circulating in which the former lawmaker seeks intervention from the United Nations, Amnesty International, other human rights organizations and even the Pope.

“I am politically persecuted, accused of false accusations, and even found guilty before trial,” part of the letter reads.

“You all know the reality in the Philippines. Please don’t send me there. I don’t want to be killed. Please save my life,” Teves allegedly wrote.

Teves is in custody in East Timor, awaiting trial in connection with his extradition following his arrest in March last year on an Interpol warrant prosecuting him over the murder of Degamo along with nine others.

In August 2023, the Anti-Terrorism Council designated Teves a terrorist after expelling him from the House of Representatives for disorderly conduct and continuous absence.