Comelec workers back Bautista
Employees of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) continued to support Chair Andres Bautista even after all other election commissioners urged him to resign.
The Comelec Employees’ Union did not dispute the view of the commissioners that the impeachment complaint filed against him last week would require his undivided attention.
But Bautista “should be given a fair opportunity to defend himself in the proper forum—keeping in mind the best interests of his family, the Commission and the country,” the union said in a statement.
The union said they would not prevent their members from joining activities to support Bautista but “we do not intend to undertake any collective action on the matter as we are focused on our preparation for the upcoming electoral exercise.”
The union was referring to the barangay and youth council elections set to be held in October.
On Thursday, Comelec commissioners Robert Lim, Al Parreño, Luie Tito Guia, Arthur Lim, Sheriff Abbas and Ma. Rowena Guanzon signed a statement saying Bautista’s legal troubles will be a hindrance to preparations for the elections.
“In our view, while due process of law will take its normal course, Chair Bautista’s defense will not only be spirited but arduous, to say the least,” the commissioners said in a joint statement.
“He will need to devote all his time, energy and effort,” the commissioners said. “The time for him to let go has come.”
“With all due respect, it is our consensus that Chair Bautista can no longer effectively lead the Commission,” they added.
Bautista’s troubles began when his wife Patricia sought a judicial partition of conjugal property.
To bolster her appeal, Patricia made public documents Andres kept at their home, including documents on several bank accounts, investments and real property.
Patricia also revealed that Bautista accepted emoluments from Divina Law Office, a charge Bautista denies.
The documents, however, suggest that Bautista amassed substantial wealth beyond his income as an election commissioner and raised concerns the wealth may have been ill-gotten.
Former Negros congressman Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio on Thursday filed an impeachment complaint in the House of Representatives stemming from the unexplained wealth.
The complaint also accused Bautista of betraying public trust when he failed to prevent the so-called “Comeleak” data breach in March last year that involved millions of voters, the largest data hack in Philippine history.
Bautista, however, continued to deny Patricia’s allegations against him and said he was considering going on leave or quitting, as suggested by his fellow commissioners.
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