MANILA — House Speaker Martin Romualdez has designated himself as the caretaker of Negros Oriental's 3rd district while Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. serves his 60-day suspension.
Romualdez's memorandum dated March 23 says he will be the caretaker from that day until May 22 in the interest of the district's constituents.
The House adopted the Committee on Ethics and Privileges' recommendation to suspend Teves for "disorderly behavior" because of unauthorized overseas travel.
The lawmaker's travel clearance from the House expired on March 9 and he has yet to return to the Philippines.
According to a press release from the Speaker's office, the House chief 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 is currently on its Lenten Break lasting up to May 7.
Romualdez has repeatedly urged the Negros Oriental lawmaker to return to the country so he could attend to his job and at the same time face the accusations against him, giving him guarantees of safety and fairness.
The lawmaker's camp cited threats to his safety and security as reasons for his reluctance to come home.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., citing intelligence reports, said there were no threats to Teves' life, and urged him to come home and face the charges against him.
Aside from being implicated in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, Teves is also facing murder charges over the 2019 killing of former Negros Oriental Board Member Miguel Dungog, as well as complaints of illegal possession of firearms.
Ferdinand Topacio, the legal counsel of Teves, said authorities have yet to find conclusive evidence linking the congressman to the death of Degamo.