House ethics panel may meet, decide next steps if Teves fails to return in 60 days, Castro says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 23) — A member of the House of Representatives’ ethics committee on Thursday said the panel may meet again to determine the next steps to take if Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves does not return to the country after his two-month suspension.

Siguro (Maybe) we will meet and maybe if Representative Teves will continue to defy, and after 60 days, siguro kailangang mag-meet ang committee on ethics (maybe the committee on ethics needs to meet again) on the next action,” ACT Teachers Party-list France Castro told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

Castro, also a deputy minority leader, noted the committee may set the grounds for possibly expelling Teves from his post due to disorderly behavior.

Voting 292-0-0 during Wednesday’s plenary session, the lower chamber imposed a 60-day suspension against Teves for his continued absence in Congress. 

The lawmakers adopted the recommendation of the ethics and privileges committee that noted the congressman’s defiance and refusal to return to the Philippines despite expiration of his travel authority on March 9.

Castro noted the panel may still discuss lifting Teves' two-month suspension if he returns within the 60-day period.

The matter of expulsion will be up to the House leadership and the ethics committee, she added.

Castro said the last suspension implemented by the House was in the 1960s against then-Cong. Sergio Osmeña Jr. also for disorderly behavior.

While Teves is unable to fulfill his duties as lawmaker, Castro said she hopes a caretaker will soon be appointed to ensure that the people of Negros Oriental are represented in Congress.

Teves was tagged in the assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo after at least one suspect named a “Congressman Teves” as the mastermind. Teves has denied the allegations.

READ: Degamo family to file complaint to expel Teves from House next week, counsel says

Citing security concerns, the suspended lawmaker has yet to return to the Philippines since he flew to the United States late February for medical purposes.