SUSPENDED Negros Oriental Third District Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr., who has been tagged as mastermind in the murder of Governor Roel Degamo, is seeking asylum in Timor-Leste, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.

In an interview with reporters, Remulla said Teves entered Timor-Leste last week and tried to seek special asylum status.

“But we don’t see any political reason for him to seek asylum in Timor-Leste. It’s really for not wanting to face the consequences of certain actions by which he’s being held to account for,” he said.

Asylum is the legal protection granted by a country to a foreigner who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin due to a well-founded fear of persecution.

Remulla said the information was relayed to them by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

He said they wrote a letter addressed to DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo to inform the country’s Ambassador in Timor-Leste that they have taken “concrete steps” to designate the embattled lawmaker as a terrorist.

The letter indicates that Teves is currently in the capital city of Dili “where he applied for a protection visa with the intent of asylum.”

Remulla earlier said Teves was going back and forth between South Korea and Cambodia.

Deaths related to Degamo’s murder has climbed to 10 on Sunday, May 7, 2023.

The armed attack happened in broad daylight on March 4 in Degamo’s residence in Pamplona town.

A total of 11 suspects who directly participated in the actual killing and planning of Degamo are now under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Remulla earlier said that Teves served as the executive producer of Degamo’s killing but the Negros Oriental lawmaker had repeatedly denied this.

Teves was in the United States when the execution took place and he has since refused to come back to the country despite the encouragement of the government, including President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who assured his safety back home. (SunStar Philippines)