House panel to tackle Teves expired travel authority, refusal to return to PH
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives’ ethics panel is set to discuss Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.’s refusal to return to work following the expiration of his travel authority on March 9.
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, House Committee on ethics and privileges chairperson and COOP-NATCCO Rep. Felimon Espares said that they will conduct a closed hearing to determine if Teves’ stay in the United States (US) translates to violations of House rules.
Teves, accused by an investigating body as the brains behind the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, remains in US for a medical trip despite House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez’s advice for him to return home. The Negros lawmaker has denied accusations against him, adding that he fears for his and his family’s safety.
READ: Negros Oriental governor shot dead inside his house
“To determine may violation ba? May reasons ba? Of course to protect the image of the House. So ‘yon lang. We are looking for our quorum this time maybe, masuspend itong meeting and then move to undertake,” Espares said.
“Usually on the Ethics committee it is always an exclusive meeting for the members because this is part of our House rules, this is a confidential meeting because we are touching on the House members which we need to protect, that’s part of our House rules,” he added.
Espares admitted that they felt the need to discuss Teves’ case because it is a growing issue in the news cycles. However, he said that there was no marching order from Romualdez to launch a hearing on the said topic.
“Of course alam natin mainit ang issue so at least we will really ensure na may nagawa rin ‘yong ating institutions,” he said.
(Of course we know that it is becoming a hot issue right now so at least we will really ensure that our institutions do something.)
“Not necessarily a marching order, but then it’s just a discussion and so that’s why we called this meeting for us, the members of the committee to act on whatever possible action we could make, in order of course to really ensure na maprotect din ang institution,” he added.
As to what kind of action may be taken, Espares said that it will depend on what the members of the committee may decide — but he said that the options range from suspension to the gravest penalty of expulsion and dropping from the roll.
He assured however that hearings would take place to afford due process to Teves.
“It depends on the members, the decisions. Options dito of course we are on the administrative aspect to really recommend whatever disciplinary actions, usually gano’n naman, suspension. If it comes to worst, so the House according to our rules naman may expulsion saka dropping of rolls,” he said.
“Of course due process, may hearing talaga […] It depends with decision of committee after… anyway I will process and inform the respondent on whatever (decision),” he added.
On Monday, Teves’ legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio revealed that they were trying to contact Romualdez’ office as the beleaguered lawmaker has information that would be for the Speaker’s ears only.
A day after, Romualdez confirmed that he got the chance to talk on the phone with Teves. According to the Speaker, he reiterated his advice to Teves that the latter should return home and face the accusations hurled against him.
READ: Teves ready to return to PH, face accusations but…
Romualdez also assured the lawmaker that he will be secured upon arrival in the country — noting however that this security cannot be extended to outside the country.
READ: Romualdez tells Teves in phone call: Go home, report for work
Teves was tagged by the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) – Degamo as the brains behind the attack on Degamo, while several of the suspects arrested pointed to a certain “Congressman Teves” as the mastermind.
Despite this, the lawmaker clarified that he and his brother, former governor Pryde Henry Teves, would not gain anything from the attack, as the death of Degamo means the incumbent vice governor would get the seat.
Pryde Teves used to be the governor of Negros Oriental until the Commission on Election declared Degamo as the winner, after crediting votes obtained by a nuisance candidate that went by the name “Ruel Degamo”.
Teves tagged as alleged mastermind in Degamo slay
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