Rep Teves: Pichay, et al ‘hurt by the truth’

By Christian V. Esguerra
Last updated 06:50pm (Mla time) 06/29/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Initially silenced by Malacañang officials, outgoing Negros Oriental Representative Herminio Teves came out again Friday following accusations his son, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, was himself involved in extortion activities.


The elder Teves laughed off the allegation made by outgoing Representatives Prospero Pichay and Rolex Suplico, who, as members of the Commission on Appointments (CA), were apparently incensed by the Negros Oriental solon’s disclosure of alleged extortion activities by members of the powerful body tasked with confirming presidential appointments to high office.


“The truth hurts,” the 87-year-old Teves told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of “Even a dog, if it gets hurt, will go crazy and bite without reason.”


Pichay and Suplico on Thursday made public a pending graft case against the younger Teves before the Office of the Ombudsman.


During CA deliberations in October 2006, a lawyer named Daniel Romana accused Teves of demanding half of the P10 million he was supposedly trying to withdraw from the Land Bank of the Philippines.


Teves, then the bank’s president, allegedly wanted the other half as commission for his “friend,” Reynaldo Guevarra.


The elder Teves on Friday questioned the timing of the two congressmen’s allegation. “Why are they talking about this only now?”


He said was confident the public will not buy Pichay and Suplico’s allegation, claiming that more and more government appointees have been “validating” his disclosure of extortion by certain members of the CA.


Last week, an Army general told the Inquirer that an influential member of the CA had once allegedly demanded P50 million from the command service in exchange for the confirmation of its chief.


The same lawmaker, a member of the lower house, also allegedly went on a personal trip to the United States with a “woman other than his wife,” only to ask the military attaché to shoulder the couple’s hotel expenses, according to the general who declined to be identified for security reasons.


Pichay and Suplico on Thursday asked the elder Teves to issue a public apology, noting that he had yet to present evidence to back his allegation.


“Why would I apologize for telling the truth?” Teves replied Friday.


He said he was willing to participate in an official investigation, including a planned inquiry in the coming 14th Congress. “We have to change the system of corruption and hopefully, the 14th Congress will do better.”


Opposition Representative Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro said on Friday he will file on Monday a resolution calling for the creation of an ad-hoc committee to look into the alleged extortion racket within the CA.


He suggested that the special committee be composed of seven members, headed by a three-term congressman. The rest of the group should involve three lawmakers from the administration and another three from the opposition, he said.


“The House of Representatives should look into the matter because it tends to besmirch Congress as an institution,” he told the Inquirer. “We should recommend prosecution to the guilty and improve the image of Congress.”


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