Ethics panel considered Teves’ expulsion but opted for ‘another chance’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — The committee on ethics and privileges in the House of Representatives considered expelling embattled Negros Oriental Rep. Arnie Teves over his continuous absence, but still recommended a fresh 60-day suspension to give him "another chance" to fulfill his duty to his constituents.

“Yes, expulsion as penalty was discussed. considering we are giving another chance to a fellow member,” Rep. Raul Angelo "Jil" Bongalon, ethics panel vice chairperson, told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Thursday, when asked if they talked about the harshest penalty possible for a House member.

“And the committee has exercised prudence and high degree of constraint in recommending sanctions against Representative Teves,” he added.

Bongalon said the committee recognized the significance of fair treatment, due process, and deference to Teves’ constituents in the province’s 3rd district, in recommending the second suspension.

“With this another suspension and another consequence, basically we are giving him another chance to go home and to fulfill his duty as the representative of the 3rd district of Negros Oriental,” Bongalon said.

Aside from the suspension, which will end on July 31, the House of Representatives approved the recommendation to strip him of all committee memberships in the lower chamber.

He was the vice chairperson of the games and amusements panel, and a member of the legislative franchises and nuclear energy committees.

The recommendation was adopted by the House on May 31. Two days earlier, the ethics committee unanimously decided to recommend a “stiffer disciplinary action” for the congressman but the details were not disclosed. 

RELATED: Teves camp to seek Supreme Court's help against 'stiffer' penalty recommendation 

Teves has still not returned to the country after his travel authority expired on March 9, citing threats to his life.

He has been tagged as one of the alleged masterminds in the March 4 assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.

He sought political asylum in Timor-Leste but failed.

The lawmaker has been appealing that he be allowed to be heard through video teleconferencing, instead of appearing personally before his colleagues.

Bongalon reiterated that the committee has considered and gotten the side of Teves through his letters and other communications which contained the reasons for his absence.