Romualdez tells Teves’ lawyer to ask client to return: It’s not good for him to flee PH
MANILA, Philippines — House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has told the lawyer of Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. to ask his client to return home, noting that it would not be good for a lawmaker to flee the country.
Romualdez in a statement on Thursday confirmed that Teves’ lawyer Ferdinand Topacio sought for a private meeting with him on Wednesday night to relay concerns of the lawmaker.
The Speaker said that in response, he reiterated his request for Teves to come home to the country, as his travel authority had expired last March 9.
“In that meeting, I reiterated my stand that Cong. Arnie should return to the country and report for work at once. I relayed to Atty. Topacio the decision of the House Committee on Ethics to investigate Cong. Arnie’s refusal to heed a direct order from the Speaker for him to come back home after the expiration of his travel authority last March 9,” Romualdez said.
“I strongly urge Cong. Arnie to reconsider his decision not to return. It does not sit well for a House Member to flee the country rather than avail himself of all the legal remedies available to him,” he added.
Romualdez was referring to the House Committee on ethics and privileges’ decision to acquire jurisdiction of Teves’ absence from his House duties, despite his travel authority lapsing.
Teves went to the United States for a medical treatment, and secured a travel authority from February 28 to March 9. However, Teves did not return to the country after the travel authority’s expiration, claiming that he fears for his and his family’s security.
This was because Teves is being accused of involvement in the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo. Teves has denied the allegations, claiming that he and his brother, former governor Pryde Henry Teves, would not gain anything from Degamo’s death.
Romualdez said he also relayed to Topacio that the committee has acquired jurisdiction of Teves’ absence, reiterating that the lawmaker would be given security once he returns to the country.
“The Committee on Ethics has already acquired jurisdiction on Cong. Arnie’s case. I will act accordingly after the Committee wraps up its investigation and submits its recommendation to the House leadership,” he said.
“I also reiterated the assurance that the Speaker and the entire House leadership will exert all means necessary to pave the way for Cong. Arnie’s safe return to the country,” he added.
On Wednesday, sources who asked not to be named told INQUIRER.net that Teves had sent a letter to Romualdez, asking for a two-month leave following the expiry of his travel authority.
Romualdez’s office later confirmed that they have received Teves’ letter. On Thursday, they sent a copy of it to reporters.
Teves is currently on hot waters not only due to the Degamo incident, but also due to his failure to report to the House of Representatives. On Wednesday, the said committee headed by COOP-NATCCO Rep. Felimon Espares said that they would give Teves five days to respond to their request for an explanation.
Teves was tagged by a Special Investigation Task Group as the brains behind the attack on Degamo, who, along with several others, were killed last March 4 inside the slain governor’s Pamplona town residence.
Teves maintained that he and his brother would not benefit from the incident, because the incumbent vice governor would get the seat, not Pryde.
Pryde Teves used to be the province’s governor until the Commission on Election declared Degamo the winner, after votes obtained by a nuisance candidate named “Ruel Degamo” were credited to the late governor.