MANILA — The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges has given Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. an ultimatum: show up in person at the Batasan Pambansa within 24 hours or the panel will recommend disciplinary sanctions.
Committee chairperson COOP NATCCO party-list Rep. Felimon Espares told media that this was the panel's decision as he emerged from a closed door committee meeting on the motu proprio investigation of the travel authority issued to Teves which expired on March 9.
Espares was tightlipped about everything else that the panel discussed behind closed doors, except to say that Teves must join them in person in their next meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
"Ultimatum in a sense na nabigyan siya ng time to really go back here in the Philippines dahil kung hindi yun na mag-provide kami ng aming desisyon what is the appropriate sanction," Espares also said.
"As per approved by the committee, we'll just inform you that we extend our time to let our colleagues respond within 24 hours na umuwi dito but kung di siya makapag-appear personally in our committee, so the committee would really have its decision the appropriate sanctions probably by tomorrow 4 or 5 p.m."
(It's an ultimatum in a sense that he was given time to go back to the Philippines because otherwise, we will provide our decision on what is the appropriate sanction. If he does not personally appear in our committee, the committee would really have its decision the appropriate sanctions probably by tomorrow 4 or 5 p.m.)
Espares said their colleague would not be allowed to join via teleconferencing on Tuesday. The House has allowed virtual attendance in sessions and meetings, even voting via electronic channels, since the pandemic began.
"Hindi allowed yung virtual. We need his physically appearance meaning it's him to really report here in the House," Espares said.
Teves, who is abroad, was asked on March 15 to explain his continued absence and has cited alleged security threats.
His colleagues have rejected his bid to appear before the committee on Monday via teleconferencing, Espares said.
He said Teves' request to extend his travel authority was also denied.
Espares said the panel would decide as a collegial body on what happens next.
Teves, a scion of an influential political family in Negros, is facing murder charges over the killing of Negros Oriental board member Miguel Dungog and several others in 2019.
He was also being investigated for his alleged involvement in the Degamo murder earlier this month, even after he released a video statement on Facebook denying he had a hand in the slay.
Aside from murder charges, Teves was also facing several counts of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, one of which was dropped over the weekend.