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Negros Oriental lawmaker Teves seeks two-month leave ‘due to grave security threat’

Negros Oriental Representative Arnie Teves on Wednesday asked the House leadership to grant him a two-month-long leave of absence, citing a "very grave threat" to his life and his family.

Teves, who has been linked to the assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, made the request in a letter addressed to Speaker Martin Romualdez of Leyte.

“The undersigned, Representative of the Third District of Negros Oriental, humbly plea and request that he be granted a two-month leave of absence due to very grave security threat to his life and his family, to be reckoned from March 9, 2023,” Teves said in his letter.

“Rest assured that he will come back as soon as the threat will be dealt with accordingly under our law laws, and with the aid of the government. Thank you for your kind attention,” the letter continued.

The letter is dated March 9. The House ethics and privileges panel has given Teves five days to explain his continued absence in House proceedings even though the travel authority issued to him had expired on March 9. 

Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe, in a statement shared by House Secretary General Reginal Velasco, said the ethics committee "has decided to acquire jurisdiction and to conduct motu proprio investigation" over Teves' failure to return home.

"Pending submission of the Report by the Committee on Ethics to the Plenary, we leave it to the sound discretion of the Committee to investigate and recommend imposition of the appropriate disciplinary action," Dalipe said.

Asked if this meant that the Speaker or the House Secretary General will not act on the leave request of Teves, Velasco told GMA News Online, "We will leave it to the House ethics committee."

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

"We want to consider his side, give him an opportunity to explain. So that the public will know that hindi tayo nagpabaya [we did not neglect our role] while we consider our colleague," Coop-NATCCO party-list Representative Felimon Espares, chairperson of the House ethics and privileges panel, told reporters.

"This is to help our institution [na] hindi naman masira [remain intact]. We are always protecting the institution," Espares added.

Romualdez, for his part, has called on Teves to come home and face the allegations as soon as possible.

Teves has denied involvement in the crimes but has not been seen in the Philippines since Degamo's assassination on March 4. — BM, GMA Integrated News