By Jose Cielito Reganit
MANILA – House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has taken upon himself the responsibility of ensuring that the interest of the people of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental is protected by temporarily acting as their legislative caretaker.
This was made effective through House of Representative Memorandum Order 19-017, dated March 23, 2023, that Romualdez had issued after the House imposed a 60-day suspension on Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. for misconduct.
“In the interest of the people of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental, the undersigned shall act as the Legislative Caretaker of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental for the period 23 March 2023 to 22 May 2023. This order takes effect immediately,” the memorandum order read.
The leader of the House of Representatives traditionally names caretakers for districts not represented in the chamber due to various reasons, including the appointment to a Cabinet position, suspension, or expulsion of a member.
The House Committee on Ethics and Privileges had earlier recommended the suspension of Teves for failing to return to the country and report for work despite the expiration of his travel authority since March 9.
Teves, who was last reported to be in the United States for supposed medical treatment, has refused to come home due to alleged “serious threats” to his life.
He was implicated in the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo and eight others on March 4.
The ethics panel said Teves’ stay abroad with expired travel clearance and his continued defiance of the orders of the House and the committee to return to the country and perform his duties as a House member “constitute disorderly behavior affecting the dignity, integrity, and reputation of the House of Representatives, which warrant disciplinary action.”
The committee said Teves failed to observe the norms of conduct and ethical standards expected of public officials, and his “misconduct has adversely affected the dignity, integrity, and reputation of his public office and that of the House of Representatives as an institution.”
Romualdez has repeatedly asked Teves to return home so he could attend to his job and face the accusations against him, all the while assuring the Negros Oriental lawmaker that he would be accorded justice and fairness.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. also assured Teves of his safety, to no avail.
Romualdez has assured the people of Negros Oriental that peace and order have been restored in their province, particularly in the 3rd District.
The House is currently on its Lenten break and will resume sessions on May 8, 2023. (PNA)