Panel affirms rejection of impeach case vs poll chief Bautista
The House justice committee affirmed on Thursday its decision to junk the impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Andres Bautista as a result of a defect in the verification of the document.
Voting 26-2, the panel chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali approved the committee report and accompanying House resolution junking the complaint filed by former Negros Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio due to flawed wording in their verification.
The vote originally stood at 19-2 but the panel, upon the prodding of Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, redid the voting to comply with the House impeachment rules stating that a majority of the members should approve the impeachment decision.
The dispositive portion of the resolution read: “Now be it resolved by the House of Representatives to dismiss the impeachment complaint filed by Jacinto Paras and Ferdinand Topacio against Andres Bautista for the reason that it is insufficient in form due to its defective verification.”
The committee report and resolution would now be transmitted to the House plenary for approval, the final nail in the coffin for the complaint, which would leave Bautista safe from impeachment for one year.
But if one-third of 293 House members vote to reverse the committee’s finding, according to Umali, the panel will have to meet anew to draft the articles of impeachment and transmit it to the Senate for trial.
Based largely on the allegations of his estranged wife, Patricia Cruz-Bautista, the complaint accused Bautista of failing to disclose almost P1 billion worth of bank deposits, investments and properties in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, and receiving referral fees from electronic voting company Smartmatic through the Divina law firm.
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