Solons reset hearing on Bautista impeachment
The House of Representatives justice committee has canceled its deliberations today, Wednesday (Oct. 18) on the articles of impeachment to be filed against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Andres Bautista.
“We are resetting the hearing because no members confirmed their presence,” committee chair Rep. Reynaldo Umali said, adding that he would try to reschedule it “next week.”
The absence of quorum came days after Congress adjourned for a month-long break. Sessions would resume on Nov. 13.
The committee voted 26-2 to dismiss the impeachment complaint against Bautista on Sept. 20 for insufficiency in form, owing to the use of a flawed verification form.
But before adjourning on Wednesday last week, House lawmakers voted in plenary to overturn the committee’s recommendation and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. It came hours after Bautista announced he was resigning by year-end.
The Comelec chief was accused of betrayal of public trust and culpable violations of the Constitution for allegedly failing to declare his supposed true wealth, as well as graft and corruption for allegedly receiving “referral fees” from the DivinaLaw firm, the legal counsel of Venezuelan election technology supplier and Comelec’s biggest contractor, Smartmatic.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said on Saturday that the Senate would no longer hold an impeachment trial for Bautista once it receives word from Malacañang that President Duterte has accepted his resignation. Mr. Duterte said on Friday that he had accepted the resignation.
Umali also said his legal team had begun working on the articles of impeachment, which is akin to a formal charge sheet to be transmitted by the representatives acting as prosecutors to the Senate acting as the impeachment court.
The committee aims to elect the 11-man prosecution panel and transmit the impeachment case to the Senate in November.
While preparing the articles, the committee would build up the case and look into more evidence to guarantee Bautista’s successful prosecution, Umali had earlier said.
The need for an airtight case was highlighted by the fact that the committee had not tackled at length the substance of the complaint filed by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio.
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