Patricia ‘endorses’ Bautista impeachment amid technicality issues
Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia has “endorsed” the impeachment complaint filed against him, amid issues of technicalities that may jeopardize the case.
In a hastily-called press conference, Patricia’s lawyer Lorna Kapunan said she will attend the House justice committee’s hearing on Wednesday to personally confirm her sworn statements on her husband’s alleged ill-gotten wealth and receipt of unlawful referral fees.
Kapunan said Patricia is “endorsing fully” the allegations in the impeachment complaint of former Negros Oriental 1st Dist. Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio that was partly based on her affidavit.
The lawyer appealed to lawmakers to entertain the impeachment complaint, seeing it as the only way to make Bautista answer to the allegations as the Comelec chairman is an impeachable officer immune from suit.
“The process will now sink or swim with the impeachment complaint we have nothing to do with,” she said, adding that if Bautista were not immune from criminal suits, “we would have filed simultaneous plunder cases.”
Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque Jr., one of the three endorsers of the Paras-Topacio complaint, said the only way to make Bautista accountable for the criminal allegations was “to remove him first.”
The briefing was held in response to House justice committee chair Rep. Reynaldo Umali’s statement on Monday that the Paras-Topacio complaint may be dismissed on the ground of insufficency in form for having flawed verification.
Umali cited the Sept. 13 dismissal of the complaint filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimeenz and Vanguard of the Philippines Constitution, Inc., president Eligio Mallari.
Roque argued the Paras-Topacio complaint’s verification form was proper since it was “similar in language” to the impeachment complaints filed by Magdalo Party-list Gary Alejano against President Duterte.
The justice committee on May 15 found Alejano’s complaints sufficient in form—but not in substance due to his lack of personal knowledge as these were based on news reports and witness accounts.
In any case, Roque said Paras and Topacio already submitted a motion to admit a substitute verification form, similar to the one attached in the “sufficient” impeachment complaint of lawyer Larry Gadon against Sereno.
“Technicalities should not prevail over substantive justice. The integrity of the one running the elections is at stake here,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, Kapunan noted that if the Paras-Topacio complaint failed to hurdle round one today, impeachment attempts would be banned until Sept. 7, 2018, or a period of one year from the date the House plenary referred the complaints to the justice committee.
“If that does not happen now, we have to wait one more year, where evidence might disappear, other elections would have come and gone, and people who should have been witnesses can be persuaded probably to suddenly forget what the truth is,” Kapunan said.
Patricia said: “I rely on the will and faith of all the congressmen to find out the truth. As much as you, I would like to know the truth as much as everybody with regard to these documents.” /je