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MANILA, Philippines – Veteran House lawmaker Michael John “Jack” Duavit urged his party mate Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. on Wednesday, May 31, to return to the Philippines, saying it would give his embattled colleague a “lifeline” that would “cure” the consequences of his actions in the past months.
Duavit – president of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) – made the appeal after voting yes to the ethics committee’s recommendation to slap another 60-day suspension against Teves and strip him of committee assignments.
Duavit asserted that Teves’ attempt to seek political asylum in the southeast nation Timor-Leste discredits the House of Representatives and the Philippine government.
“When you apply for political asylum, you are making the accusation that your country does not have the capability to offer protection for those persecuted, or that your own country is unwilling to provide protection for the persecuted,” he said.
“Worst of all, it also implies, may also imply that your very own country, your very own government is the perpetrator of such persecution,” Duavit added.
Teves, in the past months, has insisted that he will not set foot in the Philippines yet due to supposed grave threats to his life. He was not convinced by assurances from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Speaker Martin Romualdez that his security would be guaranteed once he comes back.
The Negros Oriental congressman also claimed he is being politically persecuted, and that he found out who his real friends are after his colleagues in Congress supposedly stopped talking to him.
But Duavit appealed to Teves to have faith in his fellow lawmakers.
“Congressman Arnie, please, think of this not as an attack on you, but, please, look at it as a lifeline. This can be cured if you did not mean to besmirch our state, if you did not mean to do any harm to our House. All of these can be cured by just coming home. We are asking you to have trust and faith in us, your peers,” he added.
Wednesday’s vote saw the House adopt the ethics committee’s recommendation against Teves, with 285 lawmakers accepting the motion, none voting in the negative, and one – Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Francisco “Kiko” Benitez – abstaining.
Teves has failed to physically attend congressional sessions since late February, after he left the Philippines in the wake of the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo. The National Bureau of Investigation filed murder complaints against Teves and 11 others over the political assassination last May 17. – Rappler.com