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Suspended congressman appeals to be allowed to speak via video conference 

NEGROS Oriental Rep. Arnolfo A. Teves, Jr., who has been suspended by the House of Representatives for unauthorized absence, reiterated on Thursday his request that he be allowed to report to Congress virtually. 

“I should be allowed to speak even through video teleconferencing,” Mr. Teves said in an online media briefing with his location undisclosed.   

“By May 23, I already am a regular member of Congress without any penalties [but] I am deemed absent,” he said. 

“During the plenary sessions yesterday, I tried to join via Zoom but they did not let me in,” he added, noting that the approval of Secretary-General Reginald S. Velasco was needed before he could enter the virtual meeting room.  

“Do all those who join via Zoom need the approval of sec-gen? Or is it a special ruling made only for Arnie Teves?” he said.  

Mr. Teves was also not allowed to appear virtually in an April 17 Senate hearing investigating the killing of Negros Oriental Rep. Roel R. Degamo, citing legal implications with the taking of his oath.   

Suspects of the Degamo slay have recanted their testimonies implicating Mr. Teves in the crime, according to their lawyer.  

The House ethics panel is scheduled to meet on May 29 to discuss its recommendation on the chamber’s next action regarding Mr. Teves, following the expiration of his 60-day suspension on May 22.  

Mr. Teves was suspended for failing to report physically in Congress after his travel authority expired on March 9.  

He cited threats against his family and himself as the reason for his refusal to appear onsite in Congress.  

Committee Chairman and COOP-NATCCO Party-list Felimon M. Espares said the decision on Mr. Teves will be taken before Congress adjourns on June 2. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz 

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