By Alejandro del Rosario | Manila Standard Today
It was a day full of surprises. Just when the newsrooms of major media were all set to headline the resignation of Comelec chief Andres Bautista came the report from the House that 137 members voted to impeach him.
Not only is Bautista the first Commission on Elections chairman to be impeached. The shocker was that the House voting in plenary overturned its own justice committee ruling on Sept. 30 to dismiss an earlier impeachment complaint against him. This, despite Bautista’s announcement earlier in the day to resign his post effective the end of the year.
One third of the full House membership, voting 137 to 75, saw Bautista’s resignation as a ploy to avoid impeachment since his resignation letter to President Duterte was not immediate and irrevocable.
What if President Duterte decided not to accept it or appoint Bautista to another key position in the government? Majority of the congressmen including House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez considered the allegations against Bautista as serious offenses. These are misdeclaration of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and failure to address accusations his office did not do anything about Smartmatic’s faulty voting mechanism before the 2016 presidential elections.
The House will transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate which will then convene itself into an impeachment court as it did in the case of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona .
There are some senators, however, who expressed the view that since the primary intent of impeachment is the removal of an official of a constitutional body , the Senate would then only be wasting its time since Bautista has already announced his resignation.
Bautista said he resigned because he did not want his personal problems to affect the institution that is the Comelec. He was referring to his legal problems with estranged wife Patricia who exposed his alleged P1-billion hidden and unexplained wealth.
He also said now is a good time to resign since the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections have been postponed. In his resignation letter to President Duterte , Bautista explained the time frame end of the year was to give enough time for his replacement and a transition team to take over the Comelec in a seamless manner.