Ethics panel to Rep. Teves: Come home so we won’t issue new sanctions
MANILA, Philippines — The House Committee on ethics and privileges has appealed again to suspended Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. to return home so that the committee would no longer discuss the possibility of new sanctions against him.
Committee chairperson and COOP-NATCCO party-list Rep. Felimon Espares issued the latest appeal to Teves on Tuesday, after the panel discussed the case involving the beleaguered lawmaker and other House members in a hearing.
According to Espares, Teves’ current suspension would last until July 30. Should Teves still fail to present himself to the House before that day, the committee might be compelled to discuss another round of sanctions against the lawmaker.
“So after July 30, the committee, once na walang nagrereport na Cong. Arnie Teves (if he does not report) in the House, so we might conduct again another meeting to acquire jurisdiction on a motu proprio,” Espares told reporters in an ambush interview.
“But then as part of our, always na ginagawa sa committee natin, the chair, we’re given authority to inform Arnie Teves na maglalapse na ang kanyang suspension this coming July and requesting him really to report to work na para hindi naman macompel ang committee to act any other actions,” he added.
(But then as part of what we do in our committee, the chair, we’re given authority to inform Arnie Teves that his suspension would lapse this July and we are requesting him really to report to work so that the committee would not be compelled to act further.)
Matters concerning Teves’ continuous absence were part of the committee’s agenda on Tuesday, including committee cases against Cagayan 3rd District Rep. Joseph Lara and Siquijor Rep. Zaldy Villa.
Last May 31 — the last session day of the 19th Congress’ first regular session — the House adopted the committee’s recommendation to hand down the second 60-day suspension against Teves for his continuous absence.
In addition to that, the House also stripped Teves of all his committee memberships, as part of a graver sanction against the lawmaker.
Teves flew out of the country on the power of a travel authority issued by the House, which was valid from February 28, 2023, to March 9, 2023. It was for a medical trip to the United States.
However, when Teves was implicated by authorities in the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, the lawmaker refrained from returning to the Philippines, citing concerns for himself and his family’s safety.
Teves denied involvement in the killing of Degamo, saying that he and his brother Pryde Henry Teves — who used to be the governor of the province until the Commission on Elections credited nuisance candidate votes to Degamo — would not benefit from the attack.
He was first suspended for 60 days on March 22, 2023.
After the suspension period lapsed on May 22, 2023, the committee on ethics and privileges held new discussions to acquire jurisdiction of the issue, as Teves still did not return to the country.
No less than House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez asked Teves to return, saying that his safety would only be assured if he was within Philippine jurisdiction.
Espares meanwhile assured the public that the committee did not meet only to discuss Teves’ case.
“I think there [are] around eight cases aside from Cong. Arnie which the committee acted and disposed for that. So baka sabihin na yung committee natin nag me meet lang just because of the case of Cong. Arnie. It’s not just that. Nasama na kanina sa aming agenda yung other matters for any whatever updates, baka andito na sya sa Pilipinas, kasi wala, hindi namin alam,” Espares said.
(I think there are around eight cases aside from Cong. Arnie’s which the committee acted and disposed of for that. So they might say that the committee convened only to discuss the case of Cong. Arnie. It’s not just that. It was just included in our agenda for any updates; maybe he’s already here in the Philippines, we really don’t know.)
“So at least aware kami na umuwi na siya and sana makapag trabaho at makapag report na siya sa House. So ‘yun lang naman ang napag usapan kanina,” he added.
(So at least we are aware if he has gone home, and we hope he can work and report to the House. That was the point of discussion earlier.)