House committee proposes stiffer penalties for Teves
MANILA, Philippines — After the suspension of embattled Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr., the House of Representatives committee on ethics and privileges recommend stiffer penalties on the lawmaker.
Teves has been tagged in the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine other persons last March.
“The committee on ethics and privileges unanimously decided to recommend to the plenary, the imposition of a stiffer disciplinary action to our colleague, Arnolfo A. Teves, Jr., for violation of the rules of the House of Representatives, particularly Rule 20, Section 142 Substitute A and B of the Code of Conduct and for disorderly behavior,” ethics committee chair and Coop-=Natco party-list Rep. Felimon Espares said.
Espares however, said that they are not at liberty to say what exactly the penalties will be. Neither did he specify the grounds on which the decision was made.
When asked what the following step after suspension was however, ethics panel vice chairperson and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Raul Bongalon said that it was either expulsion or another punishment decided by the committee.
“Based on the House rules, the stiffer penalty from suspension is expulsion, and there is another penalty that can be imposed. Any penalty that the Committee may determine, those are the remaining options. But I’m not saying that is the decision or recommendation of the committee,’ said Bongalon.
However, the committee cannot recommend extending the suspension of Teves, as 60 days is already the maximum allowed in the 1987 Constitution.
“We need really, to come up with decision coming from the member. We exhausted our discussions on this because it is not an easy decision for the Committee because we are all members and we really need to ensure appropriate protection of our colleagues also here, in the House of Representatives,” said Espares.
The recommendation of the committee will be decided in a plenary session, said Espares. This could mean that Teves’ penalties could already be decided by May 31, as per the schedule of plenary sessions.
According to Bongalon, government agencies included in the committee’s closed-doors hearing included the Commission on Elections, Bureau of Immigration, Department of Foreign Affairs, Civil Service Commission, and the Philippine National Police.
Teves has since deferred his return to the country out of fear for his safety.