House committee recommends ‘stiffer' penalties vs. Teves

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) — The House Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Monday said it is recommending "stiffer disciplinary action" against Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.

"The Committee on Ethics and Privileges unanimously decided to recommend to the plenary the imposition of a stiffer disciplinary action to our colleague, Arnolfo Teves Jr., for violation of the rules of the House of Representatives, particularly rule 20, section 142...of the code of conduct and for disorderly behavior," committee chairman Rep. Felimon Espares said in a news briefing. He added that it was a collegial decision.

However, Espares did not disclose details of the recommendation, and what specific issues were discussed.

When asked if an extension of Teves' suspension was possible, Ethics panel Vice Chairman Rep. Jil Bongalon said 60 days was the maximum allowed and they could not give more than that.

"Based on the House rules, the stiffer penalty from suspension is explusion. And there is another penalty that can be imposed — any penalty that the committee may determine. So 'yon na lang po ang natitirang options. But I'm not saying na 'yon or yun ang naging recommendation ng committee," Bongalon said.

[Translation: Based on the House rules, the stiffer penalty from suspension is explusion. And there is another penalty that can be imposed — any penalty that the committee may determine. So those are the remaining options. But I'm not saying that was the committee's recommendation.]

RELATED: House suspends Teves for 60 days over continued absence

"We are not at liberty to divulge because we were not given the consent of majority of the members of the Committee on Ethics, and that is why maybe we can just wait for another day or two days so that, for you to know what is the recommendation of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges," added Bongalon.

Teves' 60-days suspension ended on May 22.

Among the agencies present at the Ethics Committee hearing were The Commission on Elections, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine National Police, Civil Service Commission, and the Bureau of Immigration, but the committee was mum on why they were invited.

"It's up (to) the Committee on Rules kung kailan nila iaagenda yung report ng ating committee. But then, take note na dalawang araw na lang ang natira before the break of the...House of Representatives," added Espares.

The committee also did not allow Teves to attend the hearing via video conferencing, even as he said he would not be coming back to the country because of alleged threats to his life.

Teves' lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said they would study all legal means should expulsion be the decision.