Teves’ House expulsion a dark day for rule of law, says lawyer
MANILA, Philippines — The expulsion of Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. from the House of Representatives’ roll marks a dark day for the rule of law, his lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said on Wednesday.
In a statement, Topacio said that the House committee on ethics and privileges — which recommended Teves’ expulsion — was a mere kangaroo court.
“Today is a dark day for the rule of law and the dawning of a new age of the tyranny of the majority, where might is right and the prevailing principle is the Law of Force rather than the Force of Law,” Topacio said.
Teves was expelled from the House roll after 265 lawmakers voted in favor of adopting the committee’s report — with only the three members of the Makabayan bloc abstaining.
“The proceedings before the House committee on ethics and privileges are nothing but that of a kangaroo court, to use a worn-out phrase. From the start of the proceedings, it bore all the hallmarks of an inquisition: the committee was the motu proprio Complainant, making it both the accuser and the judge; Rep. Teves was never allowed to participate in the proceedings by himself, but only through letters of his counsel, who were never even allowed to present,” he added.
Topacio also claimed that the committee, headed by COOP-NATCCO party-list Rep. Felimon Espares, disregarded sections indicating that the committee should defer deliberations if a matter is still pending discussion in a separate body.
“To make matters worse, while the committee was overly strict in not allowing Rep. Teves to participate in the proceedings, it chose to disregard Section 2 of its own rules which provides that proceedings in the committee shall be deferred if any matter under discussion is before a judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative body, until after final judgment therein,” he said.
“The committee has refused to heed this rule even after incontrovertible proof has been adduced showing that the issue of Rep. Teves’ designation as ‘terrorist’ is still under review by the Anti-Terrorism Council and that his supposed continued absences are subject of a complaint before the Ombudsman,” he added.
Espares said that only the three issues played a role in their recommendation to expel Teves:
- Teves’ continuous pursuit of political asylum — deemed tantamount to abandoning his public office
- Teves’ continuous absence, as he has not reported to the House since he was authorized to go on a medical trip from February 28 to March 9
- Teves’ indecent behavior on social media, as he uploaded a video of him dancing while wearing only his undergarments
Despite the latest setback to his client, Topacio remains optimistic that they can move on to a battleground that would be fair to them.
Teves was issued a travel authority from February 28 to March 9, and went to the United States for a medical procedure.
However, Teves did not return to the Philippines after he was implicated in the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo.
Teves maintained that he is not involved in the killing of Degamo, adding that he and his brother former governor Pryde Henry Teves would not gain anything from the incident.
Still, the expelled lawmaker has not surfaced due to supposed threats to his and his family’s security.