Teves party-mate says hearings, expulsion fair: When work calls, you should be present
MANILA, Philippines — Even the party-mate of expelled Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. believes that the proceedings leading to his expulsion were fair, adding that lawmakers are required to be present when work calls.
In an interview on Wednesday, Rizal 1st District Rep. Michael John Duavit revealed that there were already suggestions to remove Teves from the House of Representatives’ roll early into the issue, but it was deferred in hopes that the lawmaker would attend the proceedings.
Both Duavit and Teves belong to the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
“I think that yeah, I believe they were fair. Makikita naman do’n sa body eh (We can see that in the body), in the wording. I think it was fair, I think they took enough time,” Duavit said. “I know there were moves to expel him much earlier but they deferred that a number of times. And basically Cong. Arnie was given every opportunity to come home.”
“The issue here is really, you cannot just be absent without leave indefinitely. And that is actually what the body voted on today — alam naman po natin na we took our oaths, meron naman kaming mga ano, we don’t do this for free, we do this for the Filipino people, may sweldo yan […] ‘pag tinawag, ‘pag kailangan ka, ‘pag dapat ka magtrabaho, pumunta ka,” he added.
(We know that we took our oaths, we have a job to do, and we don’t do this for free, we do this for the Filipino people, we have a salary. […] when we are called, when we are needed, if we need to work, we should be present.)
Duavit also clarified that it was not just NPC’s contingent in the House that sought to defer the expulsion, saying that other lawmakers too wanted to wait for the possibility of Teves coming home.
“Well it’s, I guess so, but it wasn’t just us. There were individual members, and there were concerns of course na are we doing this too fast, or are we doing it correctly?” he said.
“Kasi you know this is the first time this happened. And history will judge this, and they won’t be judging what we’re saying here in the press. They’ll be judging the document. This is what’s going to stand the test of time,” he added.
According to House Committee on ethics and privileges chairperson and COOP-NATCCO Rep. Felimon Espares, only three issues played a role in their recommendation to expel Teves:
- the continuous pursuit of political asylum — deemed tantamount to abandoning his public office
- the continuous absence, as Teves has not reported to the House since he was authorized to go on a medical trip from February 28 to March 9
- the indecent behavior on social media, as Teves uploaded a video of him dancing while wearing only his undergarments
Duavit was asked if Teves’ social media posts showing him dancing only in his undergarments was a key factor to his expulsion, to which he replied that the main issue was the continuous absence. He claimed that the recommendation might have been reversed only if Teves showed up.
He also maintained that the Anti-Terrorism Council’s decision to tag him as a terrorist was not even a factor, saying that the House panel only discussed it.
“The big deal is really the absences […] The terrorist tag, it’s very clear eh also, right. Final judgment has to be the reason,” Duavit said.
“And as far as what they say, I’m sorry I don’t have Tiktok and I don’t really follow social media, I’ve never seen it. It wasn’t really much of a consideration. If he had come home, he can be dancing in less than his underwear. I think probably he wouldn’t have been expelled,” he added.
Teves was authorized by the House to do a medical trip to the United States from February 28 to March 9, but he failed to return after Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo was killed last March 4. The lawmaker was accused by investigators as the mastermind behind the killing of Degamo and several others, now dubbed as the Pamplona massacre.
Teves maintained that he is not involved in the incident, adding that he and his brother former governor Pryde Henry Teves do not gain anything from it. He however refrained from returning to the Philippines due to supposed threats to his and his family’s security.