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Teves may seek relief from SC, appeal removal

POWWOW ON TEVES. Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez (center left) listens to the concerns of the Makabayan Block members at the plenary session of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, moments before the chamber voted overwhelmingly to expel Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. for disorderly behavior and violation of the Code of Conduct of the House of Representatives. All Makabayan Block members abstained from the vote. Ver Noveno

A lawmaker on Thursday said expelled Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. may file a motion for reconsideration or seek relief from the Supreme Court after he was kicked out of office by the House of Representatives.

Nueva Ecija Rep. Rosanna Ria Vergara said Teves could appeal the expulsion verdict against him.

Vergara, vice chair of the House committee on ethics and privileges, was quick to add, however, that the Supreme Court may cite the lower chamber’s own rules and say that it “cannot dictate on us.”

Various political parties supported the decision of the House leadership to expel Teves from their ranks.

House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said on Thursday that the lower chamber has served the expulsion notice to the former congressman. He also said the House leadership has yet to decide on who will serve as the caretaker of Teves’ district.

Voting 265-0-3, the House on Wednesday moved to expel Teves from its ranks for disorderly behavior and violation of the Code of Conduct owing to his application for political asylum, continuous absence, and posting an obscene video of himself on social media.

“We, members of the National Unity Party, firmly stand behind the decision of the House of Representatives to expel Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr for gross violations of his Oath of Office and Disorderly Behavior as a member of the 19th Congress,” the NUP headed by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said in a statement.

Villafuerte said the credibility, honor, and effectiveness of the House of Representatives hinge on the utmost integrity, transparency, and commitment of its members.”

“As representatives of the Filipino people, our primary duty as lawmakers is to uphold our oath, serve our constituents, and perform our law-making tasks that advance the nation’s well-being.”

Villafuerte, majority leader of the House contingent of the Commission on Appointments said the evidence presented against Rep. Teves is strong and deeply concerning.

“Seeking political asylum in another nation without a concrete reason and abandoning his law-making duties, have put in jeopardy the trust that the people of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental have placed in him.”

“Moreover, the tarnish on our institution’s reputation wrought by the designation of its member as a ‘terrorist’ demands immediate and decisive action,” he said.

“For the benefit of our nation, its institutions, and the democratic principles we uphold, we assert our full support for the expulsion of Rep. Teves.”

The Party-list Coalition, Inc. headed by Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co lauded what he tagged as the ‘historic expulsion’ of a House member.

Co added that the House leadership’s decision demonstrates the chamber’s commitment to upholding the highest ethical standards in the legislative body as it likewise ensures accountability among legislators.

Co said the decision was based on three pivotal factors that could not be overlooked: his contentious pursuit of asylum in Timor-Leste, his frequent and unexcused absence from parliamentary duties that flagrantly violated House rules, and the disturbing instances of alleged “indecent behavior” displayed on social media platforms, which tarnished the image and integrity of the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Velasco said the camp of Teves was already informed of the House decision.

“We have just released the letter to Mr. Teves Jr., it was received by his office, informing him, through his office, about the decision of the plenary to expel him as a member of the House of Representatives,” Velasco said.

Before his expulsion, Teves had been suspended twice for 60 days without pay, and other entitlements extended to a House member as well as striped off his committee memberships.

Teves earlier said he refused to return home from his US trip in February citing threats to his life. The Department of Justice linked him to the March 4 assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, but Teves denied any involvement in the crime.

Teves’ camp questioned his expulsion, calling the House vote a “kangaroo court.”

“From the start of the proceedings, it bore all the hallmarks of an inquisition: the committee was the motu proprio complainant, making it both the accuser and the judge; Rep. Teves was never allowed to participate in the proceedings by himself, but only through letters of his counsel, who were never even allowed to present,” he said in a statement.

He also noted that the hearings were kept secret, and the final recommendation “shows that there was never a bona fide intention to consider the evidence in favor of Mr. Teves.”

Three lawmakers, among them ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel, abstained from voting, citing supposed implications of the panel’s discussion of Teves’ designation as a terrorist by the Anti-Terrorism Council.

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