Lagman says Rep. Teves’ expulsion unlikely

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) — The House of Representatives' ethics committee may not push to expel embattled Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves despite his continued absence from work as his 60-day suspension ends on Monday.

“I think the ethics committee may extend his suspension… but an expulsion at the moment may not be anchored very well because he has not been convicted of any offense,” Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday.

Teves was tagged as one of the masterminds behind the murder of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine others in March. He has denied the accusation.

The lawmaker has been refusing to return to the country after flying to the United States in February for medical treatment, citing security threats.

His absence from work after his travel clearance expired led to his colleagues at the lower chamber agreeing to suspend him for 60 days last March 22.

With the expiration of the suspension, the House ethics panel is set to meet on Tuesday to determine a possible sanction to be imposed on Teves because of his failure to report for work.

Teves' lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said the lawmaker wants to be allowed to attend the ethics panel hearing virtually.

However, Nueva Ecija Rep. Ria Vergara, a vice chairperson of the committee, emphasized the hearing will be “strictly face to face.”

In a text message to CNN Philippines, Teves questioned the committee for singling him out, saying he can attend congressional hearings and sessions at the House via videoconferencing.

Lagman said he believes Teves should be allowed to attend virtually.

“He must be given due process and he must be allowed to appear via Zoom or video conferencing. That right should be granted to him so that he can ventilate his defense,” Lagman pointed out.

CNN Philippines’ correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.