Facing impeachment rap, Bautista considering either resigning or taking a leave
Facing an impeachment complaint, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Andres Bautista said Thursday he was considering quitting or taking a leave of absence to protect the interests of his family and the commission.
“Now, we are weighing all our next steps,” he told reporters ahead of the hearing by the House appropriations committee on the proposed P16 billion budget of the Comelec for 2018.
He replied in the affirmative when asked if he considered taking a leave or resigning, saying all options were on the table.
“Of course, we want to protect the interest, first of all, of my family and the interest of Comelec. That’s what we’re studying, contemplating and praying for,” Bautista said.
He said he had not read the complaint filed on Wednesday by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio accusing him of failing to fully declare his wealth and receiving a bribe from election voting company Smartmatic.
“Like I said before, that will be explained at the right time and place,” Bautista said.
The Comelec chief appeared at the House to defend his agency’s budget a day after the House panel postponed the hearing due to his absence and warned of consequences for Comelec if he still skipped the next one.
In a 23-page complaint largely based on the allegations of his estranged wife, Patricia Cruz-Bautista, the election chief was accused of failing to disclose bank accounts, investments and properties in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
In 2016 Bautista declared only a net worth of P176.3 million, but his wife publicly accused him of amassing nearly P1 billion in possibly ill-gotten wealth, producing earlier this month bank records, passbooks and real property documents that appeared to belie what he stated in the document.
He was also accused of betraying the public trust by receiving referral fees from electronic voting company Smartmatic through Divina Law Office, and failing to prevent the so-called “Comeleak” data breach that compromised the private information of millions of registered voters in March 2016.
The complaint was endorsed by Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque and Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino. ASU
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