Teves expelled from House for indecent conduct, chronic absence
MANILA, Philippines — Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. was expelled from the roll of the House of Representatives on Wednesday with 256 members voting to adopt the recommendation of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
None of the lawmakers present voted in the negative. Three lawmakers abstained, all members of the Makabayan bloc — namely, Reps. Arlene Brosas of the Gabriela party-list group, France Castro of the ACT Teachers party-list group, and Raoul Manuel of the Kabataan party-list group.
Prior to the voting, COOP-NATCCO party-list Rep. Felimon Espares, the committee chair, first read the panel report before the plenary.
“As the branch of government upon which the power to make laws has been reposed by the Constitution, members of the legislature should be held to account to a higher ethical standard especially when the acts complained of violate the very same laws Congress has arduously passed,” he said.
“As stewards of the public trust, the members of the House of Representatives are imbued with a sacred responsibility to embody the highest standards of ethical conduct,” he added.
Espares said the committee members had voted unanimously in favor of the recommendation.
Copies of the committee report showed the panel considered three issues in determining whether or not Teves should be expelled:
- his continued pursuit of political asylum, which lawmakers deemed tantamount to abandoning his public office
- his long absence, which was not allowed as he was authorized to go on a medical trip only from Feb. 28 to March 9, 2023
- his indecent behavior when he uploaded on social media a video of him dancing while wearing only his undergarments
“After a thorough deliberation and following numerous meetings, while observing fairness and due process, the Committee on Ethics and Privileges unanimously recommends that the penalty of expulsion from the House of Representatives be imposed on Representative Arnolfo ‘Arnie’ A. Teves Jr. for disorderly behavior and for violation of the Code of Conduct of the House of Representatives,” Espares reported during the plenary.
The committee members presented its report after holding a closed-door hearing last Monday on the continued absence of Teves.
Previously, the panel already handed down two 60-day suspensions against Teves for failing to report to the chamber despite Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez’s direct order to do so
Teves had flown to the United States for a medical procedure by the power of the travel authority issued by the House.
However, the lawmaker refrained from returning to the Philippines after authorities implicated him in the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo on March 4, 2023.
Teves said he and his brother, former Gov. Pryde Henry Teves, would not gain anything from the crime.
The lawmaker cited concerns about his safety and family as reasons for staying abroad.
Last Aug. 1, the Teves siblings and 11 others were tagged as terrorists by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC). The council held the legislator responsible for the spate of violence in Negros Oriental.
In a virtual press briefing, Teves described the accusations as absurd. He said no politician in his right mind would appeal for votes while terrorizing the voters themselves.