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Kabayan solon mulls endorsing impeach bid vs poll chief

/ 02:24 PM August 23, 2017
Harry Roque

Rep. Harry Roque (File photo by GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

A party-list lawmaker on Wednesday said he is considering to endorse the impeachment complaint set to be filed against Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Andres Bautista by a former congressman.

In a press conference by the minority bloc, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said the camp of former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras has reached out to him for his endorsement of an impeachment complaint set to be filed against Bautista on Wednesday.

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Impeachment proceedings originate from the House of Representatives, where a verified impeachment complaint should be filed and endorsed by an incumbent member of the House.

Months ago, impeachment complaints have been filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Vice President Leni Robredo, but these did not reach the justice committee level for deliberations without the endorsement of a lawmaker.

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Roque said he will first study the impeachment complaint if the complainants have personal knowledge on the allegations against Bautista, in keeping with the House leadership’s standard of personal knowledge like in the dismissed impeachment complaint of Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano against President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ: House panel junks Duterte impeach complaint for lack of substance

“I’m inclined to endorse an impeachment complaint against the chairman of the Comelec for graft and corruption and for betrayal of public trust… Kung sa tingin ko hindi papasa sa standard sa impeachment ni President Duterte, lalo na on the issue of personal knowledge, hindi ko po pwedeng ma-endorse (If I see that this will not pass the standard similar to the impeachment of President Duterte, more so on the issue of personal knowledge, I will not endorse it),” Roque said.

Bautista faces increasing calls for him to resign amid a threat of impeachment after his estranged wife Patricia accused him of amassing P1 billion ill-gotten wealth. Meanwhile, Bautista has accused his wife of extorting him.

READ: Wife says Comelec chief has unexplained wealth

Roque said Bautista may be impeached for the impeachable offenses of betrayal of public trust for not declaring his true wealth in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities Networth (SALN), as well as for graft and corruption for allegedly receiving commissions from Divina Law Offices, the legal counsel of Venezuelan election technology supplier and Comelec’s biggest contractor Smartmatic.

READ: Integrity of ’16 polls in question as probe into Bautista’s ‘unexplained wealth’ sought 

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“Hindi ko pa nakikita ang complaint, hindi ko po alam ano ang nasa loob ng complaint. Bagama’t naniniwala ako sa mga sinasabi ni Mrs. Tish Bautista, na pwedeng maging basehan sa impeachment ang pagsisinungaling sa SALN, betrayal of public trust, at ang pagtatanggap ng referral fee from Smartmatic, graft and corruption, na parehong grounds for impeachment,” Roque said.

(I have yet to see the complainant, I have not yet seen what’s inside the complaint. However, I believe in the statement of Mrs. Tish Bautista, which can be a basis for the impeachment for misdeclaring SALN, betrayal of public trust and for receiving referral fee from Smartmatic, graft and corruption, both grounds for impeachment)

Roque said should he endorse the impeachment complaint, he will make sure Bautista’s wife will testify in the impeachment proceedings especially because she has the personal knowledge on the allegation.

READ: Comelec Chair Bautista: I am a victim of infidelity

Bautista earned the ire of the House appropriations committee on Wednesday when he snubbed the briefing on the Comelec’s proposed 2018 budget supposedly to attend his children’s guidance counselling session. Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has advised Bautista to take a leave of absence for the sake of the poll body. JPV

READ: Faced with impeachment, Bautista a no-show to defend Comelec budget hearing | Guanzon: I’ve asked Comelec chair Bautista to take a leave of absence

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TAGS: Andres Bautista, Commission on Elections, Harry Roque, impeachement, Jacinto Paras, Supreme Court
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