Palace: Congress shall decide on Bautista impeachment

MANILA. Commission on Elections Chair Juan Andres Bautista

In the resignation letter he gave to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Bautista intends to resign by end of 2017 to give Comelec time to adjust and to give President Rodrigo Duterte leeway to find his replacement.

Among these bills, said Drilon, are the proposed P3.77-trillion national budget for 2018 and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, which are already up for deliberation.

The House Committee on Justice last month dismissed an impeachment complaint against Bautista over allegations his estranged wife Patricia raised early August.

"I am directing the committee on justice to prepare the Articles of Impeachment immediately, so ordered", said Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas, the presiding officer.

Paras did not show the documents, since he said they would be officially submitted and attested to by the PCGG during the impeachment trial, if need be. He said senators will have to go to work on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays if the proceedings push through.

"It is with deep sadness that I am informing you about my decision to resign as the chairman of the Comelec by the end of the year", Bautista told poll employees. "Kung wala na siya sa posisyon wala nang dahilan para magtuloy [ng trial]", he said.

Roque said Bautista could be planning to withdraw his resignation later on, making himself immune from impeachment for one year based on impeachment rules.

But Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan said there is no need for a trial against Bautista if he will step down willingly from his post.

But Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the House decision was premature because the overturned committee ruling was only on "sufficiency in form" and not on "substance".

Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (NP, Surigao del Norte) said an impeachment trial in the Senate would give Bautista the opportunity to explain the perceived infractions he committed.

Bautista is accused of neglect of duty that resulted in the hacking of voters' personal information, allowing automated election machine provider Smartmatic to tinker with the script of the "transparency" server that broadcast the 2016 election results, and hiding almost P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth as alleged by his estranged wife, Patricia Paz.

Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim said, "It was a gutsy decision". "For all intents and purposes the matter is moot", he said.

During the plenary debates on the complaint on Wednesday afternoon, 137 representatives voted to reject the committee resolution that junked the impeachment charge against the poll chief while 75 House members voted to adopt it.

On the other hand, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon believes that the letter, which was read by Bautista before Comelec personnel Wednesday morning at the Commission's head office in Manila, is not a resignation letter. Bautista added that he chose to stay until the end of the year, to give the President time to choose his replacement and to have a smooth transition of the leadership to his successor.

"I always weigh things if I can still be of help or be a burden to the institution, and its effect on my family and my position".

Sarmiento added that Bautista would also have the time for his family.

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