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Marcos to Arnie Teves: Come home

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday asked Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves to return to the Philippines.

This came after Timor-Leste denied the suspended lawmaker's request for political asylum.

“Come home. That’s the best advice that I can give him,” Marcos told reporters while en route to Manila.

According to Marcos, he was able to briefly discuss the matter with Timor Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak at the sidelines of the 42nd ASEAN Summit.

“Yes, it turns out that Congressman Arnie Teves applied for political asylum but was denied. Ganoon lang,” Marcos said.

“I think they will continue to go through the process. May appeal process para sa those who are applying but ‘yun na-deny so we just complete the process to complete,” he added.

According to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, Teves entered Timor-Leste a week ago to seek asylum. The Department of Foreign Affairs then confirmed that this request was denied.

On Thurday, Remulla said Teves has asked Timor-Leste to reconsider.

According to the Immigration Service of Timor Leste, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste guarantees the right of asylum “to foreigners and stateless persons persecuted or is guaranteed seriously threatened of persecution in result of activity performed in State of nationality or habitual residence.”

It further states that it also guarantees asylum to those “who, fearing justifiably be persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, are unable or, owing such fear, unwilling to return to the State of nationality or residence habitual.”

Remulla, however, said they do not see any political reason for Teves to seek asylum in Timor-Leste, noting that the suspended lawmaker merely does not want to face the consequences of his actions.

Teves was tagged as the mastermind in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and nine others in March.

He has yet to return to the country, citing to concerns for his safety. Teves also repeatedly denied any involvement in the murders.

Marcos earlier said there was no threat to Teves’ safety detected and urged him to come back to the Philippines.


Marcos also told Ruak that the Philippines would be his country’s partner as it moves towards becoming a full-fledged member of the ASEAN.

“In the Philippines, you have a partner. We have always been supportive,” Marcos said.

“It has always been our view that the membership of Timor-Leste in ASEAN could only strengthen ASEAN and I'm very happy that the process has continued and you are now here to join us as an observer with the ultimate end of becoming a full-fledged member of ASEAN,” he said.

Marcos said he expects the continuing intra-ASEAN discussions and coordination as well as bilateral connections to grow stronger.

“For our part in the Philippines are [shared] those facts that Timor-Leste brought people to life as a state," Marcos said.

“And those are the things that we fight for and these are the values and the principles that we continue to espouse and therefore we will find in that a very large common ground for us to work together,” Marcos said.

For his part, Ruak expressed gratitude to Marcos for receiving him during the bilateral meeting as well as for the Philippines’ continued support for his country.

“Philippines is a great friend of Timor-Leste. We have a big community of Filipinos in our country, but we have also a big community of Timorese in Philippines. We have the missionaries, we have the teachers. So it's not just diplomatic relations, it's emotion,” Ruak said through a translator.

“Additionally, we have had the support of Philippines since the very first moments of our independence,” he said. — BM, GMA Integrated News