Commission on Elections Commissionner Rowena Guanzon pleads with Chairman Andres Bautista to go on leave for both his sake and the sake of Comelec.

This after the House Appropriations Committee cancelled the agency’s budget briefing today, citing the requirement of the committee’s rules that the head of agency be present.

Guanzon told media that she had long adviced Bautista to go on leave following his public spat with his estranged wife over allegations he amassed ill-acquired wealth. Guanzon says the agency is already affected by the poll chief’s personal troubles. “tumango tango naman po siya sabi niya we’ll consider it the following week sinabi ko ulit sa kaniya  nag nagmeeting kaming 5 with him sabi ko  sa kaniya i was very candid with him you know i already said to you last week so ill say it again mag leave ka na for your sake also but really for the sake  of comelec ngayon po alanganin eh alanganin  like now magmemeeting kaming 5 alanganin kami sino ba head of agency ngayon kasi as far as congress is concerned ang head of agency si chair bautista  he is in the country andito po siya sa pilipinas at wala naman po siyang nafile na leave of absence. nagsusuffer po ang comelec kaya po magmemeeting muna kaming 5 “

Guanzon explained that the poll body had long anticipated that they will be affected by Bautista’s troubles. “yes ive told him since day 1 when his problem became public that my advice is for him to take a leave before he decides to resign or whatever so that we can have a smooth functioning in the comelec many of the commissionners did anticpate potential problems with our budget heraings if our chair is in the country but he is not on leave so yung memorandum ko pang nareciev kahapon yun nga sabi niya di  siya makakattend dahil may counselling ang anak niya and he must be present but we really i understand his personal predicament pero may mga priorities po tayo para sa bayan at sa comelec budget po ito nakakatakot ho kasi baka magalit sila sa amin yung mga kongresista at bawasan po yung budget namin eh 2018 is our preparation year  for the 2019 elections nakakabahala lang at sana naman di mabawasan yung budget namin”

During the hearing, both Bautista and Senior Commissionner Christian Robert Lim were absent, while the other commissionners like Guanzon were present. upon questionning by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman , Executive Director Jose Tolentino explained “good morning your honors the chairman will be meeting with the guidance counsellors of his children  it has been set earlier that’s  he couldnt attend this hearing. i have a copy of the chairman’s memorandum saying that he will be attending or meeting with the guidance counsellors of his children he is requesting senior commissionner christian robert lim  or if he’s unable to attend commissioner al pareno  to lead the team that will be presenting …it’s internal  your honor.”

This prompted Lagman to ask for the cancellation. “well considering  that the chairman of the comelec is absent and there is no official communication with respect to his absence  and there is no authority given by the chair to any of the commissioners to represent him in this briefing  and consistent with our rule that he head of the agency must be present before we proceed with the presentaton of the proposed budget of said agency  i move that we cancel the budget hearing for today.”

Commissionner Arthur Lim offered an apology in behalf of the agency and asked that they be allowed to proceed. lawmakers however were not satisfied. Appropriations Committee Chair Karlo Nograles said, “given there was no formal communication or letter given to this committee given also as manifested by the exec director there are personal reasons for the absence of the chairman all of us here understand the personal situayion of the chairman were giving comelec a chance to appear again tomorrow. many members of the house want to propound questions to the chairman given  that we have allowed him leave today, tomorrow it will be fair enough for us to expect his attendance. ensure you are all present together ….otherwise, unless  the chairman presents himself you may suffer consequences with that, we will cancel first the budget briefing of Comelec and defer it tomorrow 9am”

Guanzon told media, “sure po kami na kaming 6 darating bukas  we are we have asked the executive director to contact chair bautista because  it s very urgent that he should be present tomorrow  tomorrow is our last chance for the comelec to be present and present our budget for the cosnideration of the HoR Appropriations Committee unfortunately our schedule was reset today ebcause  our chair is not present we were told that according to the rules of the HoR…the head of agency must be rpesnet in the budget briefing we have our last chance tomorrow at 9 o clock in the morning we will all be back here the 6 commissionners will be back here tomorrow”

Guanzon added,  “may memo po si chair bautista sa amin kahapon ng hapon na hindi po siya makattend today dahil may counselling anak niya at kailangan nandoon din siya so pero ang hinanap po sa amin ng appropriations committee ay  kung may sulat daw po siya sa appropiations committee na siyay di makakarating  at kung sino ang kaniyang designated na representative or magiging head ng comelec delegation for the budget briefing unfortunately wala po silang makitang  letter na addressed to the appropriations committee chair so wala po kami as of today”

This is the 2nd time Bautista skipped a congressional hearing since his personal troubles began. Bautista also skipped the hearing of the Suffrage Committee last week when it decided to reset the 2017 Barangay and Sk elections. Bautista’s testimony is widely anticipated by lawmakers since he has yet ot face any formal probe about his wife’s allegations.

an impeachment complaint is expected to be filed against him later today. Guanzon says that should one be filed, she expects Bautista to be able to defend himself. “if an impeachment  complaint is filed against him im sure that he can defend himself  ably being a good lawyer having good lawyers”

Kabayan Party List Rep. Harry Roque says he is ready to endorse any impeachment complaint against Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista that will have the affidavit of his wife, Patricia.

Roque explains that’s because impeachment complaints require personal knowledge, which is a standard set by the House in dismissing the impeachent complaint against President Duterte last year. “kung sa tignin ko papasa standard ni majority floor leader  yung impeachment complaint ni dating cong paras it will be filed by 2 but i cannot compromise kung madidismiss lang din sa committee level dahil walang personal knowledge ang mga complainants di ko iyan endorse. di kailangan ang endoprser di kailangan complainant  basta may tetsigo na may erpsonal knowledge sisiguraduhin ko tetestigo si mrs bautista di magtetsify si mrs bautista walang affodavit si mrs bautista wala po yan personal knowledge ibabasura po yan ng chairman ng justice committee”

Roque said earlier, “sa mga nagtatanong im inclined to endorse an impeachment complaint  against  the chairman of the comelec for graft and corruption and for betrayal of public trust ang problema po si fmr cong jing paras hanggang ngayon di pa pinapakita sa akin ang complaint di ko naman po pwedeng endrose ang complaint  na di ko pinaniniwalaan. bagamat nakatanggap po kayo ng notice 2pm ifafile…ang prublema ko po kung sa tingin ko di papasa yan doon sa standard na ginamit ni majority leader sa impecahment ni duterte lalo na on the issue of personal knowledge . di ko po puwedeng manedorso. bagamat naniniwala ako  na yung mga sinabi ni mrs tish bautista ay pwedeng basehan ng impeachment  dahil yung pagsisinungaling sa saln ay betrayal of public trust at  pagtanggap ng referral fee sa smartmatic ay isang form of graft  and corruption pareho po yan grounds for impeachment”

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez for his part wants a probe on Mrs Bautista’s allegations.

“nagfile na ako ng resolution 3 weeks ago about the alleged unexplained wealth ng chairman ng comelec. kasi gusto ko lang malaman   nung magbalolon ba saln  what year v balita namin 2015 biglang lumaki kaniyang saln.”

Suarez also said, “pag lumabas sa hearing na yung nagbalon talaga yung kaniyang saln na 2015 kasi ang allegations is 100s of million ang pumasok na hinawakan ng kapatid then the 2016 election i will  assume and ill suspect na may nanalong dapat natalo at may natalo na dapat ay nanalo meaning there is an order from the top giving order to the comelec na ito di dapat manalo at ito di dapat matalo.”

Both Roque and Suarez said Bautista should now resign since the Comelec is affected.

Roque said, “yung di niya pagdating kahit  ano pa rason dahil ito naman ay related sa eskandalo na pumapaligid sa kaniya ay patunay na di na niy magagampan ang katungkulan bilang chairman mabuti nga sana  talaga magresign na inaasahan ko shortly after pumutok ang eskandalo ito dapat nagresign na kasi integridad ng comelec nadadamay eh”

Suarez added, “palagay ko naman kungdi siya magreresign zero budget siya.. i will move if he will not resign zero budget ang comelec napakainefficient naman eh.