House to impose ‘stiffer’ penalty on Teves but gives no details
MANILA, Philippines — Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. will face “stiffer disciplinary action” from the House of Representatives for his continued absence and “disorderly behavior.”
Members of the House ethics and privileges panel made this decision on Monday following a closed-door meeting.
“The committee on ethics and privileges unanimously decided to recommend to the plenary the imposition of a stiffer disciplinary action on our colleague, Rep. Arnolfo ‘Arnie’ A. Teves Jr., for violating the rules of the House of Representatives, particularly Rule 20, Section 142 Subsection A and B of the Code of Conduct and for disorderly behavior,” House ethics panel chair Rep. Felimon Espares said at a press briefing.
However, the committee’s members declined to categorically state what penalty they would impose on Teves, who was barred once again from joining the proceedings via online.
Teves, who was charged on May 17 in connection with the March 4 murder of Roel Degamo — his political rival and then governor of Negros Oriental — was abroad at that time and has not returned to the country.
The lawmaker was suspended for 60 days beginning March for disorderly conduct, as his colleagues had also described his refusal to return home and report back to work. The suspension ended on May 22.
Espares said the penalty on Teves “might be higher” than his suspension.
Ako Bicol Rep. Raul Angelo Bongalon, vice chair of the panel, said Teves could not be suspended again because the maximum 60 days for that penalty had been imposed.
But as to what penalty the panel would determine, Bongalon said they were “not at liberty to divulge” the details.
‘Not an easy decision’
Ferdinand Topacio, Teves’ lawyer, sought to represent him at the closed-door hearing but was not allowed to take part since his client was not in attendance.
In an online press briefing earlier on Monday, Teves claimed that his colleagues were “afraid” that he would speak out in Congress against the Maharlika Investment Fund.
“They are afraid that I will speak on the Maharlika fund because I think they just want a unanimous decision on that,” he said of the priority legislation of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“They don’t want to give me a chance to be heard in Congress. I am always deemed absent during roll call,” added Teves.
His colleagues, however, are precisely calling for his return home and participation in the chamber.
Espares said the committee “really required the personal appearance” of Teves, “pursuant and consistent with the rules of the House and the rules of the House committee on ethics and privileges.”
He added: “Again, we exhausted our discussions on this because it’s not an easy decision for the committee.”
The committee may submit to the House committee on rules today its undisclosed recommendation regarding Teves, which may be tackled at the House plenary on Wednesday — the last day of session before Congress goes on sine die adjournment on June 3.