Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. has submitted a “wish list” to Speaker Martin Romualdez which, if granted, would allow him to “return to the country immediately,” his legal counsel said yesterday.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said Romualdez has expressed willingness to grant “about half” of the list.
He said the items deal mostly with security concerns as Teves maintained there is a “grave threat” to his life once he comes home.
Topacio said while his client was thankful for the offer of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to allow Teves’ private jet to land at the Basa Air Base in Pampanga where it would be surrounded by the military, the measure is not enough to secure the lawmaker.
“Between landing and the proceedings, a lot will happen. That’s what we’re trying to negotiate,” Topacio said
Teves flew to the United States on Feb. 28 for medical treatment, but his travel authority issued by the House expired on March 9.
As this developed, House lawyers are now studying a formal request for the expulsion of Teves.
House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said the wife of the assassinated Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo submitted a letter-request to the House of Representatives asking for Teves’ expulsion.
“Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo said that Congressman Teves is involved in the violent incidents in Negros. But that is just an allegation at this time because the incidents are still being investigated by the authorities. The House leadership will still study the matter to determine the action that the chamber would take,” Velasco said.
Velasco declined to provide the media with a copy of Degamo’s letter but said it could be eventually referred to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges which recommended slapping Teves with a 60-day suspension by an overwhelming 292 votes with zero abstention.
“Her request is grave – expulsion. But expulsion is also covered by a process. Her letter may eventually be sent to the Committee on Ethics.
We will have to await the decision of the panel on what to do with this new development,” he added.
Velasco said Teves’ suspension is counted in terms of calendar days,during which the lawmaker would not get his salary and other emoluments.
However, Velasco said the House still has to decide on what to do with the lawmaker’s office and his office budget and office staff, noting the unprecedented nature of the lawmaker’s suspension.
President Marcos earlier played down supposed threats to Teves’ life.
“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?” Mr. Marcos told reporters covering the 126th founding anniversary of the Philippine Army in Taguig.
He urged Teves to return to the country as soon as possible and face the charges filed against him. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
“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.
In a video message posted March 22, Teves addressed Mr. 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.