MANILA — The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Tuesday said it will once again be deliberating embattled Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr.'s continued absence from work, after it acquired the jurisdiction to investigate the matter.
The panel's chair, COOP NATCCO Party-List Rep. Felimon Espares said the hearing will take place next Monday, May 29, with the objective of making a recommendation to the House plenary by the last session day on May 31.
Espares, along with the panel's vice chairperson Nueva Ecija Rep. Ria Vergara, noted that Teves' continued absence may be considered disorderly behavior, which the committee earlier cited in recommending to suspend Teves for 60 days.
The panel's officials also confirmed that it is now looking into Teves' failed request for political asylum in Timor Leste.
While the committee assured that Teves would be given due process during the hearing, Espares ruled out allowing the embattled lawmaker to join virtually due to his continued absence being unauthorized.
Espares also denied the panel is being pressured to act on Teves' case, but noted that it may drop its proceedings should the lawmaker decided to return to the Philippines.
Meanwhile, House Secretary General Reginald Velasco Jr. said Teves can apply for a leave of absence from work but he has to return home first, saying he has to "come here to face the music."
"'Pag leave of absence ang understanding ho namin dito ka lang sa Pilipinas. 'Pag tinawag ka ng Congress or any authority you'll be available. Siya po [ay] nasa abroad eh... We'll grant [him] a leave of absence pero umuwi muna [siya]. Iyon po iyong procedure," Velasco said.
Under the Constitution and its internal rules, the House is empowered to discipline its members for disorderly behavior.
But for a House member to be expelled or suspended requires a two-thirds vote of the plenary, with the suspension not going beyond 60 days.
Teves remains outside of the Philippines as he faces murder raps over the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, his political rival, and 9 others.
This week, 4 suspects in the Degamo slay case recanted their previous testimonies linking Teves to the crime, including their earlier admissions to planning and carrying out the hit.
ANC, ANC promo, Arnolfo Teves Jr., Arnie Teves, Roel Degamo, Negros Oriental, House of Representatives, Timor Leste,