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House ethics panel gives Teves 5 days to explain absence

The ethics and privileges committee on Wednesday directed Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. to explain in five days his absence at the House of Representatives in the light of his expired travel authority.

Coop-NATCCO party-list Representative Felimon Espares, head of the panel, made the announcement as Teves continued to be no-show at the chamber for his official duties.

Teves is facing murder complaint in connection with several killings in Negros Oriental in 2019.  At least two suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo have also named a "Cong Teves" as the mastermind in the incident.

“It is a very simple but very important action. The committee approved to acquire jurisdiction on matters particularly to the expired travel authority. Wala ng iba (Nothing else). Part of the action of the committee is susulat kami sa aming colleague para [siya ay] mag-explain bakit hindi niya magawa gawa na i-process ang travel authority [na expired na]," Espares said.

“Our move is to hear his side. Five days should be enough for him to reply,” he added.

The travel authority issued to Teves by Speaker Martin Romualdez covered the period February 28 to March 9 this year.

Romualdez also earlier said that Teves has reached out to him and has refused to go back to the country due to fears for his and his family’s safety.

Teves, who has denied involvement in the said crimes, has remained concerned of his security despite assurances from both the House leadership and law enforcement agencies.

Espares on Wednesday also provided similar assurances to Teves and echoed Romualdez’s earlier appeal for him to go home.

“We want to consider his side, give him an opportunity to explain. So that the public will know that hindi tayo nagpabaya (So the public would know that we did not neglect our role here) while we consider our colleague. This is to help our institution [na] hindi naman masira. We are always protecting the institution,” Espares said.

“Harapin niya ang mga sinasabi rito, the allegations, for everything to be clear. Mag-report siya rito sa House, mag explain siya kay Speaker ng personal. That would be best,” Espares added.

(He should answer the allegations being made here, report to the House, explain his side to the Speaker in person.)—LDF, GMA Integrated News