House of Representatives

In historic first, House expels congressman Arnie Teves

Dwight de Leon

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In historic first, House expels congressman Arnie Teves

LAWMAKER. Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. in 2021.

House of Representatives

(3rd UPDATE) Arnie Teves is congressman no more after a series of House ethics committee proceedings culminates in his unprecedented expulsion

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives kicked out of office Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. on Wednesday, August 16, a historic moment for a chamber that has not expelled any of its own members since the restoration of a bicameral Congress in 1987.

A total of 265 lawmakers voted to unseat Teves for disorderly behavior and violation of code of conduct. No lawmaker opposed the recommendation but three others – all from the Makabayan bloc – abstained from the vote.

The recommendation was forwarded to the plenary by the House ethics committee, which held seven closed-door hearings since March to tackle Teves’ case.

Based on House records, the last time the ethics committee recommended the expulsion of an erring lawmaker was in 1990, after Nueva Ecija lawmaker Nicanor de Guzman Jr. was found guilty by a trial court of gun smuggling. The House, however, only voted to suspend him, although he resigned months later.

Prior to Wednesday, Teves had already been slapped with two 60-day suspension orders in the House – the first in March, and the second in May.

House leaders have been urging Teves to come home and personally face the numerous allegations against him, specifically in connection with the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo in March.

But Teves defied these calls, insisting he could not face the music at home due to supposed grave threats to his life.

Teves left the country in February, days before Degamo’s death. He cited medical reasons in his travel clearance, but that expired in March. (Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article said Degamo was killed in February and that Teves left the country weeks after the governor’s death. This has been corrected.)

In historic first, House expels congressman Arnie Teves
Reasons for expulsion

Based on the final committee report, the House ethics panel made the following findings:

  1. Teves’ attempts to seek political asylum in Timor-Leste and his continued absences in the House amount to abandonment of public office.
  2. His designation as a terrorist by the Philippine government reflects discredit on the House of Representatives.
  3. He caused dishonor to the House when he posted on Facebook a video of him dancing while wearing only a tank top and a pair of boxer shorts.

“The committee finds that the gravity of the offenses committed by Rep A. Teves Jr. merits a heavier sanction in order to protect the dignity, integrity, and reputation of the House of Representatives,” the report read.

“This committee by a unanimous vote by its members recommends to the House of Representatives the imposition of the penalty of expulsion from the House of Representatives upon Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr,” ethics committee chairman Felimon Espares said.

Section 143 of the House Rules states that the House may expel an erring member with the concurrence of two thirds of all members.

Teves’ lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said in May that his client may go to the Ombudsman or the Supreme Court to challenge the House’s move to expel him.

“Just like the indictments from the Department of Justice, whose neutrality has been severely compromised by its Secretary’s reckless disregard of the law, the action of the Committee, and the validation thereof by the plenary under the iron grip of a Speaker hell-bent on destroying perceived political opponents, the outcome is hardly unexpected,” Topacio said on Wednesday night.

Backed into a corner

Teves’ classification as a terrorist is a first for a Filipino legislator.

An Anti-Terrorism Council resolution made public on August 1 accused him of being the leader of the “Teves Terrorist Group.”

But Espares claimed that his classification as a terrorist was not the reason for his expulsion, even though it was explicitly stated in the committee report.

“It was just mentioned in the discussions, but in our recommendations, it was clear that we only acted on the recommendation for disorderly behavior and violation of the code of conduct,” Espares said.

Still, the left-leaning Makabayan bloc abstained from the vote, with Kabataan Representative Raoul Manuel saying, “In the first place, the committee report should not have included what was being pressed on by the Anti-Terrorism Council, which is a very questionable body in our country right now.”

Teves – once the second highest leader of the House – has repeatedly insisted he is innocent, denying he had a hand in Degamo’s assassination, or that he is a leader of a terrorist organization.

Backed into a corner, he claimed political rivals are behind the allegations against him.

He has also fired in all directions, criticizing President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., his Cabinet officials, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, his House colleagues, and the mainstream media.

His party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), believes the House proceedings on his case have been fair.

“I think [the expulsion] was expected,” said NPC president and Rizal 1st District Representative Jack Duavit. “There was a question earlier as to whether we tried to save him. It’s never about saving anyone.” –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    Finally, former Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. gets what he deserved. Hope that this action of the House of Representatives would motivate him to disclose what he knows about his political enemies. His disclosures, whether true or not, will unravel some information which would help us understand and/or prove some secret corrupt practices of the Government.

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.