PHILIPPINE Commission on Elections Chair Andres Bautista on Wednesday has announced his decision to step down from his post by the year’s end as he vowed to abide by the Constitution and relevant rules regarding the impeachment process.
Hours after Bautista’s announced his decision to quit, the House of Representatives votes to impeach him due to his alleged ill-gotten wealth and reported acceptance of a referral fee from Smartmatic, an electronic voting technology company.
Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia, claimed that he might have amassed nearly PhP1 billion in ill-gotten wealth, a charge that the COMELEC chair denies.
“It is with deep sadness that I am informing you about my decision to resign as Chair of the Commission on Elections by the end of the year. After much prayer and discernment, I believe that this is the right time to step down given the postponement of the Barangay and SK elections. This was not an easy decision. But my family, especially my children, need mo now more than ever,” Bautista said in a one page letter addressed to his COMELEC family.
Bautista also thanked his colleagues in the election body for the “love prayers, and support you have shown me, most especially during my most challenging times. Amid the hurtful, baseless and malicious accusations hurled against me, most of you never left my side.”
At the same time, Bautista took pride over the COMELEC’s performance during the May 2016 elections “as it was hailed by independent local and foreign observers as the best managed and most credible in our electoral history.”
Meanwhile, Bautista said the House’s vote to impeach him was an unnecessary move since he already announced his plan to step down. He also explained that he wants to ensure a smooth transition in the COMELEC that is why his resignation was to take effect on Dec. 31.
“It is unfortunate that the decision of the House Committee on Justice, which was voted upon twice by a vote of 26-2, to dismiss the impeachment case against me was overturned this afternoon by the House of Representatives,” he said in a statement.
Bautista said he acknowledge that all members of the House of Representatives are entitled to their own opinion.
As this developed, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the Senate had no choice but to proceed with the impeachment trial as Bautista’s resignation was prospective.
“If the House transmits the impeachment case to the Senate, we have to act on it,” the former comedian turned lawmaker said.
Opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan, however, said proceeding with the trial despite Bautista’s resignation would be a waste of time since the penalty for conviction in an impeachment trial was removal from office.
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