Daily Tribune - The die is cast

13 October 2017

By Ninez Cacho-Olivares | Daily Tribune 

For an official who claimed to have resigned, evidently to escape being impeached and being tried before the Senate Impeachment Court, Commission on Elections Chairman Andres “Andy” Bautista, after being impeached by the House of Representatives due to his facebook resignation letter addressed to his Comelec “family” now says that his resignation is up to the President.

This means that his letter of resignation to the President was not irrevocable and he even hopes that the President will not accept his resignation. This way, he had hoped to escape impeachment charges for a year at least.

The House leaders were not going to fall for that no-impeachment trap, and had the dismissal of the impeachment complaint against Bautista reversed by a large majority.

So now, there went Bautista, leaving his fate to President Duterte, even as he gives out his reason for his postdated resignation, saying that as head of the Comelec, he is expected to attend some important meetings of all election heads which will be held sometime in December and other engagements he, as chairman, has to attend.

That really is a lame excuse. Does he think he is irreplaceable?

It does look like Bautista is banking on Duterte not being able to immediately appoint his replacement to the extent that Duterte may even reject his letter of resignation.

There is however, a problem, since Bautista has already been impeached by the House, and under the law, whether the senators like it or not, it is their bounden duty to try the impeached constitutional official, once the House prosecutors hand over the Articles of Impeachment against Bautista to the Senate.

However, there went Senate President Koko Pimentel, saying that with the certified true copy of Bautista’s resignation letter to the President, there is no more need for Bautista to face a Senate trial, as the aim of an impeachment and conviction of course, is the constitutional and legal ouster of a constitutional official, such as the Comelec chairman.

Said Pimentel: Since resignation serves the same purpose, the trial may not push through, as it would be moot and academic to go on with the trial.

That is Pimentel apparently assuming that the resignation letter is not going to be accepted by the President.
But as long as he stays in office, even if President Duterte tells him to stay on, the law demands that the Senate must still hold a trial in the case of Bautista.

Neither can the Senate wait for end-December this year — if it is this year — to start the Senate trial, since Pimentel and the senators will be remiss in their duties as senator-judges.

There is a Senate committee that has been wanting to initiate a probe on Bautista and all the allegations leveled against him by his estranged wife, Patricia, but which the panel chairman has been unable to start on the probe, owing to the dismissal of the House committee on justice of the impeachment complaint against Bautista.

But there really appeared that Bautista had no intention to resign his seat in the Comelec, because it was clear, after the House panel dismissed the complaint against him on account of a flawed form of verification, Bautista used this House panel dismissal as though he was innocent of all charges, and even went to town with it, knowing that he gained immunity for one year at the least. And who knows, the next Congress may not be lenient toward his impeachment case.

There certainly was no move or statement from him of resigning his post after the House justice panel dismissed the complaint against him of his resignation.

And chances are, he wouldn’t have made the move to resign had not been told by some source that the House will be impeaching him as a reversal was in the books.

And so Bautista rushed a resignation letter, with no mention of it being irrevocable, hoping of course that President Duterte would ask him to stay, until he finds a replacement.

There is just one big problem. Unlike a House impeachment process, the accused need not be present. In a trial however, despite his presence not needed, as his lawyers can do the job for him, Bautista would not be able to function in his job as Comelec chairman.

It really is game over for Bautista, even if he is retained by Duterte.