A PHILIPPINE congressman linked to the murder of a Negros Oriental governor is seeking asylum in Timor Leste, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said on Tuesday. 

In a letter addressed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo A. Teves, Jr. had applied for a protection visa in Timor Leste. 

He said DoJ was taking steps to designate the lawmaker a terrorist under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. 

“In line with the above-mentioned, it is respectfully requested that these latest updates be relayed to our good ambassador to Timor Leste,” Mr. Remulla said. 

Ferdinand S. Topacio, who lawyers for Mr. Teves, did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment. 

Last month, the House of Representatives suspended the congressman for 60 days for failing to report back to work after his travel authority expired on March 9. 

DoJ spokesman Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV said last month the agency would start court proceedings to declare Mr. Teves a terrorist. 

“His alleged acts involving multiple murder and the fashion by which it was carried out including the recruitment of gunmen and use of high-powered firearms certainly falls within the coverage of the Anti-Terror Law,” he told reporters in a Viber message on April 17. 

Former Negros Oriental Governor Roel R. Degamo and eight others, including two village leaders, were killed, while 15 were wounded when armed men opened fire at his residential compound, where cash aid was being disturbed on March 4. 

Mr. Teves, who has gone into hiding, denied involvement in the crime and cited threats against him and his family. 

“The investigation should’ve been done first before their judgment,” he told a virtual news briefing on April 17. “I’ll go home when I feel safe.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez