Marcos may not push for Teves' return – Romualdez

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 11) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. may not insist on suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.'s return to the country, House Speaker Martin Romualdez said on Wednesday.

Teves, the alleged mastermind in the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, has been ordered to leave Timor-Leste within five days after his application for political asylum was rejected by the government. He is currently in the capital city of Dili.

As the Philippine president is scheduled to meet with Timor-Leste officials on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia, Romualdez said that it is “very possible” that the leaders may discuss Teves’ asylum request.

However, Romualdez said Marcos would unlikely push for the embattled lawmaker’s return.

"I don't think that President Marcos will make any insistence. I wouldn't be surprised if he would just acknowledge and thank the Timor-Leste leader for the action taken by his government," Romualdez told reporters.

Romualdez added that the chief executive "does not want to pre-empt" any protocol or process.

The House Speaker also commended Timor-Leste’s action against Teves and said the next steps will now depend on the congressman's decision to return to the Philippines.

Romualdez said the privileges and rights mentioned by Teves are immunities only offered to congressmen who need those rights and privileges in order to perform their duties as legislators.

"Those rights, those privileges, those immunities are not meant for congressmen to use it to evade or avoid justice," he said.

"So Cong. Arnie Teves, umuwi ka na (come home) and face the music. Let justice take its course," he added.

If Teves continues to resist, Romualdez warned that the lower chamber may impose additional actions against the congressman.

“Dapat talaga bumalik at kung hindi (He should really return or else) there may be another ethics recommendation for further sanctions,” he said.

READ: House speaker warns Teves of possible sanction after suspension