Teves expelled from House of Representatives

Screenshots from video uploaded on Congressman Arnie Teves' Facebook page
Screenshots from video uploaded on Congressman Arnie Teves' Facebook page

THE House of Representatives has expelled embattled Negros Oriental Third District Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. from its rolls.

In a session on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, 256 members of the House agreed to adopt the recommendation of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to expel Teves, who is being accused as behind the brazen killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo in March.

The three-member Makabayan bloc, which includes Representatives Arlene Brosas of the Gabriela party-list group, France Castro of the ACT Teachers party-list group, and Raoul Manuel of the Kabataan partylist group, all abstained while there was no negative vote.

COOP-NATCCO party-list Representative Felimon Espares, chairman of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, read the panel recommendation, which was unanimously approved by the committee members, during the plenary.

The panel cited three issues that made them come up with a recommendation to expel Teves, the maximum penalty for a member of the House, such as his continued pursuit of political asylum, his continued unauthorized absence and his indecent behavior as shown in a video of him dancing, wearing only his undergarments. Teves uploaded the video on social media.

It said Teves’ continued absence and his attempt to seek political asylum in Timor-Leste is tantamount to the abandonment of his office and showing a clear intention of relinquishing his duties as a representative.

The committee said his prolonged and unjustified absence has also directly affected his constituents, depriving them of the representation they rightfully deserve from someone they elected into office.

The panel also took note of Teves’ designation as a terrorist by the Anti-Terrorism Council.

“When a member of the House of Representatives is designated as a terrorist, it poses a significant threat to the integrity and dignity of the institution. It is a serious and unprecedented matter,” the panel report stated.

Manuel of Kabataan partylist criticized the panel’s consideration of Teves’ terrorist tag.

“I abstain from voting on this matter because, in the first place, the committee report should not have included what was being pressed on by the ATC, which is a very questionable body in our country right now,” Manuel said.

Espares clarified that Teves’ terrorist tag was just included in the discussion and his mere designation is not the basis of the recommendation but his disorderly behavior and the violation of the code of conduct.

“The Committee finds that the gravity of the offenses committed by Rep. A. Teves Jr. merits a heavier sanction in order to protect the dignity, integrity and reputation of the House of Representatives,” the recommendation read.

Teves’ expulsion came after the House, also through the recommendation of the ethics committee, handed him down two 60-day suspensions for his continued refusal to follow the order of House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez to return to the country and physically attend to his work.

In a radio interview on Thursday, August 17, 2023, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges vice chairman Representative Raul Bongalon said the decision of the House to expel Teves is “considered final and executory.”

“Well, if we are going to look at the house rules and the constitutions, wala naman pong sinasabi doon na remedy. Let’s say for example, motion for reconsideration, so with that, the decision of the House is considered final and executory,” he said.

He also revealed that 14 others sought political asylum along with Teves, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Bongalon said the DFA had yet to identify 14 others but it made them think that they were members of his family.

He said Teves and the others filed their application for political asylum in Timor-Leste twice and it is still currently under appeal.

Bongalon said it will now be up to the House to call for the conduct of a special election to fill Teves’ post.

He said they will also inform the Commission on Elections that there is a vacant post in the House.

“Pero nasabi na po sa amin noon pa ni Comelec chairman (George) Garcia na walang sapat na pondo for a special election,” said Bongalon.

(But Comelec chairman (George) Garcia has already told us that there are not enough funds for a special election.)

When Teves was suspended twice, Romualdez served as the caretaker of third district of Negros Oriental.

Aside from his alleged involvement in the murder of Degamo, Teves was also accused of being the brains behind several killings and illegal activities in the province over the past years.

Last week, the Department of Justice filed murder charges against Teves over the killings of Miguel Dungog, a former board member of Negros Oriental; Lester “Tom-Tom” Bato; and Pacito Libron in 2019. (SunStar Philippines)

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