COMMISSION on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista will not leave his post until Dec. 31, 2017 even after the House of Representatives impeached him, saying it is up to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide whether he will remain in his post.
Bautista said he also wants to give the President ample time to choose a new Comelec chairman.
In an interview, Bautista said he will face the impeachment charges, adding his offer to resign by the end of the year is up to Duterte.
“Out of respect for him, let’s give him the option and let him decide what’s best for the country,” he said.
“I feel what I did is reasonable; it’s according to best practices,” he said.
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) lauded Bautista’s move to resign.
PPCRV Chairman Rene Sarmiento said Bautista’s act of courtesy to resign by the end of the year was “laudable and praiseworthy”.
“For one, it will enable the Comelec to act as one and purposely fulfill its mandate under the 1987 Constitution,” Sarmiento said.
Bautista has come under heavy fire—and has been impeached—after his estranged wife Patricia alleged that he amassed nearly P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth that he did not report in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
Bautista has denied her allegations.
The Palace said Thursday it looks forward to a smooth transition in the leadership of the Comelec and preparations for barangay and SK elections next year.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella added that it was up to Congress to decide its next course of action with his impeachment, in view of his resignation.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Bautista, overturning a justice committee resolution that earlier dismissed the complaint against him.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Thursday warned the passage of major bills, which included the proposed 2018 national budget and the tax reform package could be delayed once the Senate commences the impeachment trial against Bautista.
“The deliberations on the proposed 2018 national budget and the TRAIN [Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act] will have to take a backseat once the Senate begins the impeachment trial against Chairman Andy Bautista,” Drilon said.
But Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III guaranteed there will be no delay because they will hold the trial on days when they are off from legislative work. He added that the Senate is ready for any impeachment complaint that will be transmitted to them.
Pimentel also said that there is no point in holding an impeachment trial if Bautista were to resign immediately.
Congress is on a session break until Nov. 13, with two critical measures currently pending for the chamber’s approval. The proposed P3.77-trillion 2018 national budget is in the period of interpellation, with many controversial items yet to be tackled. The proposed tax reform law, on the other hand, is in the period of amendments, Drilon noted.
“Our calendar is too tight and the impeachment case will eat up a lot of our time when we resume session in November. Legislative work will be seriously affected and that is a matter that the leadership should highly consider,” Drilon said.
Senator Francis Pangilinan shared a similar view, saying the issue is “moot” because Bautista is set to step down by end of December.
“Well the penalty for a conviction in an impeachment trial is removal from office,” said Pangilinan.
Since Bautista has said he will resign at the end of the year, an impeachment trial would be a waste of time, he added.
In the House, Kabayan Party-List Rep. Harry Roque said Bautista could still face a plunder charge, even if he resigns before his impeachment trial begins. With John Paolo Bencito
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