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NBI picking up Teves in Timor

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will pick up expelled Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr. from East Timor where he was arrested on Thursday after months in hiding.

NBI Director Medardo de Lemos and his team are set to fly to East Timor on March 27 to coordinate with Dili officials for the turnover of Teves to Philippine authorities, NBI public information office chief Nick Suarez told The STAR yesterday.

“We hope that on their return to the Philippines, they already have congressman Teves,” Suarez said.

Teves’ return under NBI escort would be coordinated with other concerned agencies, Suarez added. He did not reveal other details on security preparations.

Upon his arrival, Teves would be placed under the custody of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Suarez said.

Teves, wanted for the murder of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo and nine others in Pamplona on March 4 last year, was arrested by members of Timor-Leste’s Scientific and Criminal Investigation Police while playing golf in Dili.

In a post on X, President Marcos lauded the “collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies and their international partners” that led to Teves’ arrest.

“I assure the Filipino people that we will spare no effort in ensuring that justice will prevail in this case,” the President said. “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those involved in this operation for their unwavering dedication to upholding peace and order.”

But for Teves’ lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, the arrest of the ousted congressman was not indicative of his guilt.

“(It) is simply because of the mechanisms inherent in the system of the Interpol,” Topacio said in a statement. “Any implication that he is already guilty thereof is not only premature but injudicious and ignorant as well.”

He also accused the Marcos administration of using the incident as a “diversion” to cover up its “lack of concrete achievement” as well as “the discontent of the vast majority.”

“We will just wait for the DOJ’s rude awakening which will happen soon enough, as its cases against Teves continue to collapse under the weight of lies and fabrications,” he added.

Following Teves’ arrest, Topacio