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Negros Rep. Teves asks House to extend travel authority

Negros Oriental third district Representative Arnolfo Teves has requested for an extension of his travel authority which ended on March 09, House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said.

Velasco told GMA News that Teves made the request through his chief of staff.

But Velasco said they could not act on the request because it lacked certain information.

“Nakalagay lang sa request ng chief of staff, pinapa-extend yung trip, personal trip ni (Rep. Teves) up to April 9. Tapos nakalagay roon, Europe at saka Asia, Southeast Asia if i’m not mistaken. We cannot act on it pag walang specific countries,” Velasco explained.

When asked if Teves is violating House rules by extending his stay abroad without an extension to his travel authority, the secretary general said, “Well, it’s a personal trip kaya we have much leeway there. Kasi pag official trip using government funds, yun ang medyo strikto kami.”

On Thursday, two suspects named a certain “Cong Teves” as the person behind the attack against Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

On Tuesday, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed three counts of murder against the lawmaker for allegedly being the mastermind behind a killing incident in 2019.

Police on Friday conducted raids on five houses, some of which belonged to Teves, in search for loose firearms. Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the raid is connected with the 2019 incident.

Ferdinand Topacio, the lawyer of Teves, has said the congressman will face the allegations.

A document from Velasco's office showed that Teves was cleared to travel to the United States from February 28 to March 9 for a personal trip.

Based on the rules of the House of Representatives, any amendment to a travel authority issued to a legislator such as inclusion of additional destinations or extending the period of travel must be signed by the Speaker.

Velasco said he will consult his legal team on Monday on the actions that the House can impose on legislators overstaying abroad.

“Pero pag personal trip, wala kaming masyadong authority roon because he’s using his own personal funds and his own personal time. Tapos uma-attend naman ng session thru Zoom or Viber,” he explained.

“Sa punitive or disciplinary action, we will have to refer that to the Committee on Ethics kasi nga that’s beyond our jurisdiction. Committee on Ethics, sila lang ang empowered to impose any sanctions on members na nagva-violate ng mga rules,” Velasco said.

The secretary general added that as of this time, nothing has been referred to the Committee on Ethics against Teves.—LDF, GMA Integrated News