House can still act on Bautista impeachment complaint – Alvarez

Bea Cupin
House can still act on Bautista impeachment complaint – Alvarez

Rappler.com

(UPDATED) Despite Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista's announcement that he is resigning by the end of 2017, the impeachment complaint against him remains included in the House agenda for Wednesday, October 11

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Despite Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista’s plan to resign by the end of 2017, House Speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez said the impeachment complaint against him can still proceed.

Bautista had announced on Wednesday, October 11, that he was stepping down by the end of the year.

The impeachment complaint against the Comelec chief had been junked by the House justice committee last October 5. But Alvarez said the panel’s decision can still be overturned through a 1/3 vote by the entire House.

The justice committee’s report on the Bautista impeachment complaint is part of the House’s order of business on Wednesday before it adjourns on Thursday, October 12.

“There’s a possibility that the House overturns the committee unless he says his resignation is effective immediately,” said Alvarez in a press conference on Wednesday.

The House justice committee is tasked to tackle verified complaints against impeachable officials.

The complaint against Bautista, filed by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and former Negros Occidental representative Jacinto Paras, was junked because it was insufficient in form.

Bautista is accused – by no less than his estranged wife, Patricia – of failing to declare properties in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) and amassing ill-gotten wealth.

Topacio and Paras, members of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), also claim Bautista failed to prevent and properly respond to a Comelec data breach in 2016.

Should at least a third of the House vote to overturn the committee report, the complaint will proceed to the Senate, sitting as the impeachment court.

Roque still wants impeachment

In a statement, House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms chairman CIBAC Representative Sherwin Tugna said he was “surprised” by Bautista’s announcement, considering the impeachment case against the Comelec chief was already junked by the justice committee.

Kabayan Representative Harry Roque, one of the 3 legislators who endorsed the impeachment complaint against Bautista, offered his “congratulations” because Bautista “put the interest of the Comelec… ahead of his own.”

“With this decision, I will no longer support the reversal of the House committee on justice report on the dismissal of the impeachment complaint against him,” said Roque.

But in a later statement, Roque said he will continue to push for his colleagues to overturn the committee report.

“Because his resignation is not immediate nor official, there is no assurance that he will indeed resign at the end of the year. 2018 is a very crucial year. All the contracts for the 2019 midterm elections will be signed by next year. I call on Chairman Bautista to desist from signing any contract related to the 2019 midterm elections,” said Roque, who sits in the committee as ex-officio member since he is deputy minority leader.

The committee report will be discussed when the House resumes session at 4 pm. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.