House plenary, voting 292-0-0, finds him guilty of ‘disorderly conduct’
The House of Representatives has slapped a 60-day suspension on Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., for refusing to heed its order to return to the Philippines to face murder charges filed against him.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., also called on Teves to return from the United States as he played down supposed threats to his life.
Aside from being charged for three murders in 2019, Teves has also been linked to the March 4 assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, a political ally of the President.
The House on plenary session voted 292-0-0 to adopt a committee report declaring Teves guilty of “disorderly conduct affecting the dignity, integrity and reputation of the House of Representatives.”
Speaker Martin G. Romualdez assured the public that the House would not tolerate misconduct and wrongdoing among its members.
Speaking before Congress goes on a Lenten break, Romualdez said the call for disciplinary action against Teves was a “pressing matter that warranted the chamber’s urgent and sound response.”
The House committee on ethics and privileges submitted its report for plenary action, after which the House imposed a 60-day suspension against Teves for disorderly behavior.
The President, meanwhile, played down Teves’ claim that his life was in danger.
“He is saying there is a threat to his life. On our part, the best intelligence we have is that we don’t know of any threat. Where will the threat come from?” Marcos told reporters covering the 126th founding anniversary of the Philippine Army in Taguig.
The President said he does not have any direct contact with congressman, who has spoken to Romualdez.
He urged Teves to return to the country as soon as possible and face the charges filed against him.
“The only advice I can give to Congressman Arnie is that your situation will become harder if this drags on. There are a lot of options for you if you will return at the earliest possible time. However, the government might be forced to do something if it drags on,” he warned.
The President promised that Teves would be safe if he returned.
“You are rich, you have a private jet, you can land wherever you want. You can land in an Air Force base, in Basa, the soldiers will secure you, no one will be allowed near you,” he said.
“So we have made all of these offers but he has yet to decide,” he added.
Marcos also denied speculation that Teves was being implicated in Degamo’s killing because of e-sabong or online cockfighting.
“This is because of e-sabong? No. This stemmed from the killing of Governor Degamo.” he said.
On Tuesday, Teves said he would not return home yet due to fears over his safety as he also appealed for authorities’ “fairness” and for them to look at all angles in Degamo’s killing.
Two arrested suspects, Joric Labrador and Benjie Rodriguez, earlier said a certain “Cong Teves” ordered the hit on Degamo.
Teves already denied that he and his brother Henry were involved in the killing amid allegations that the crime was politically motivated.
In a video message posted March 22, Teves addressed Marcos directly, saying in Filipino that it would be harder for him to stay away if the President was asking him to return, acknowledging that the Chief Executive had the authority to give him protection. He also said he had no problem being investigated, as long as he was not the only one.
“What happened, Mr. President, was that right after the murder, they pointed to me right away,” he said in Filipino.
Teves, who has been away since February, also said he wanted to speak with the President to explain his side.
He claimed some people in government have been “operating” against him and so he refused to return home.
“Again, this is not about murder, Mr. President. I just want you to know this because as early as Jan. 11, some people in government have been operating against me,” he said in Filipino.
At the same time, Teves apologized to Romualdez for defying his order to return to the country for fear of his life.
Despite assurances from Romualdez, Teves said he did not feel safe returning to the Philippines.
Also on Wednesday, Justice Department prosecutors granted the request from the police and the Teves camp to extend the deadline for the submission of their respective documents.
This came after the DOJ held its first preliminary investigation on the complaint of illegal possession of firearms and explosives filed against Teves and others.
“We just appeared and we met the officials of the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group). They asked for one week to present their evidence,” Teves’ lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said in an interview.
“We also asked for two weeks to submit our evidence. So that’s all. Everything was cordial and it went on uneventfully,” he added.