Impeachment raps vs Comelec chief trashed

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 20, 2017

Amid the House Committee on Justice's decision to dismiss the impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista, the camp of Bautista's estranged wife, Patricia said on Wednesday that the poll chief is not yet off the hook and that appropriate charges, particularly plunder, will be filed against him.

Reacting immediately, Bautista said he was considerably relieved after the House panel dismissed the impeachment complaint filed against him and maintained that corruption allegations against him were "fabricated and baseless".

Bautista likewise looked into the recent decisions of the House justice committee on the impeachment complaints filed against President Duterte and Chief Justice Sereno, which were both dismissed. "I would like to thank the Committee and the House leadership for upholding the rule of law and for their objectivity and fairness".

"It's business as usual".

Bautista said he could now focus on the preparations for the village and Sangguniang Kabataan elections scheduled for next month.

Patricia said she discovered alleged undeclared properties and that her husband had amassed more than P1 billion in his years as Presidential Commission on Good Government chairman and later, as Comelec chief.

"We remain undeterred. It is just the start". This is just the beginning, and this is a bump on the road. "But as in all things, we remain committed", Patricia told reporters in an ambush interview at the House of Representatives.

Patricia's lawyer Lorna Kapunan lamented the junking of the impeachment rap on a technicality.

Patricia had accused her husband of possessing unexplained wealth amounting to almost P1 billion.

During a hearing to tackle the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and former Negros Occidental representative Jacinto Paras, 26 members of the committee voted against a motion to deem the complaint sufficient in form.

"Obviously [I'm disappointed], but as Congressman [Harry Roque] said, it is something that is expected".

"From my experience, as Andy said, he has, he knows, many people in very high places".

"The substitution is not prohibited there is nothing explicitly provided in the rules which provides that any matter form can not be corrected", said Rep. Harry Roque, the endorser of the complaint.

Days after the Sereno impeachment complaint hearing, Topacio and Paras, filed a substitute verification on the complaint.

Before voting on the sufficiency of the complaint's form, Roque and Garcia tried to modify the verification document as a remedy to its defect, but panel members opposed the move.

"The decision to render this complaint as insufficient in form will stand. It should be supported", Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado said.

"It is the rule of the House, it should pass the requirements of verification", he added.

He said Paras and Topacio clearly lacked personal knowledge of their accusations against Bautista.

Bautista said the lawmakers' decision to junk the impeachment complaint is a first step to clear his name.

In the complaint, Paras and Topacio said "Bautista culpably violated the Constitution and/or betrayed the public trust when he failed to truthfully, accurately or completely disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth as required under Section 17, Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution Anti-Graft and and Corrupt Practices Act, and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards Act".

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