The filing and endorsement of an impeachment complaint against Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista has precluded members of the House Appropriations Committee from grilling him on allegations of ill-gotten wealth made by his estranged wife.
Bautista appeared at the Lower House to defend the agency’s budget before the Appropriations Committee, which began with the guidance from the committee’s chairman, Karlo Nograles.” let’s refrain from asking quetsions pertaining to anything that has to do with the current impeachment complaint that’s already been filed at the HoR. we all know an impeachment complaint has been filed against the Chairman of Comelec and has been endorsed by some members of the House we know that it will go through the process of ending up in the Committee on Justice so i deem that would be the proper venue to discuss whatever it is that is being alleged in the impeachment complaint therefore this would not be the proper venue to ask anything about those allegations lets just limit questions to the budget of comelec”
Bautista apologized for skipping the budget hearing yesterday, which compelled lawmakers to delay the budget hearing to today. “mr chairman if i may magandang umaga chairperson nograles mr majority leader itong mga kinatawan ng ating appropriations committee bago po ang lahat nais ko pong humingi ng paumanhin sa aking di pagdalo ng hearing kahapon kasi nga po ang nangyari ay nakakuha po ako ng appointment na makipagkita sa 4 na gudannce counsellors ng aking mga anak at dahil doon ako po ay nagfile ng one day leave of absence pinaalam ko po yan sa mga miyembro ng ating en banc natawagan ko rin ang chairman last monday para sabihin ito.”
Speaking to reporters before the hearing, Bautista maintained readiness to face the impeachment complaint and answer allegations against him. “yan ay ipapaliwanag sa tamang panahon at sa tamang lugar.” Previously he said he is weighing his options, including resignation or going on leave.
On wednesday, Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia, Kabayan party List rep. Harry Roque and Cavite rep. Abraham Tolentino endorsed the complaint filed by lawyers Ferdinand Topacio and Jacinto Paras who were assisted by Manuelito Luna.
Their grounds: Betrayal of Public trust for failing to prevent the hacking of the Comelec website before the 2016 elections, known as “Comeleaks.”; Betrayal of Public Trust for the “script tweak” in the canvassing server of the Comelec during the 2016 elections; betrayal of public trust for allegedly misdeclaring his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, including the revelations of estranged wife Patricia over his alleged ill-gotten wealth as well his acceptance of referral fees from Smartmatic through the Divina Law Office.
Roque said, “ naisampa na po ngayon yung impeachment complaint laban kay Comelec Chair Andres Bautista at ito poy inendorso ng 3 congresista congw gwen garcia, cong bambol tolentino at ng inyong abang lingkod 5 po grounds for impeachment pero sa aking personal po ang pinakaimportante syempre yung mga isyu na siniwalat ng kaniyang asawa na si patricia ito nga po yung hindi makatotoong SALN at yung unexplained na pag increase ng assets ni chairman bautista at yun pang amin niya na siya tumanggap ng referral fee galing sa smartmatic na pinakamalaking kontratista ng comelec. nandito po nakaappend yung affidavit ni Tish bautista and Tish bautista is of course has eprsonal knowledge sa kaniyang mga isinwalat”
Roque added, “i wouldnt have endorsed it without the assurance from mrs bautista that on the hearings she will appear and attest to the truthfulness of his affidavit and bring all the dpcumentary evdience she mentioned in her complaitn affidavit.”
Garcia said, “i join cong harry roque and cong tolentino in endorsing the impeachment complaint kasi first of all ang dami dami nang haka haka ang dami dami nang tanong ng taongbayan after the revelation of patricia bautista as regards medyong malaking accumulated wealth as evidence by the passbooks na pinakita personally i have always ahd my serious doubts about the automated voting system and i think this is the right time to see and to check on the veracity s well as the credibility of the automated voting system as evidenced by the very very controversial happenning nauna yung nagawa or hindi nagawa ni chairman bautista under hisw atch as comelec chief you ask about bakit malaking discrepancy between his declared assets and wealth in the saln and the hundreds of millions that are now deposited at the LDB.”
Tolentino said, “for me inendorse ko rin po ito for him to give him the opportunity to refute to clear his name ganun lang po”
Paras explained , “well the 2 major grounds are basically the ones which evolve on the unexplained wealth doon pa lang sa SALN ni chairman bautusta highlyq uestionnable for him to acquire so much property pero inuutang lang po niya as to the question of how he will pay those di po nakikita sa aln which udner the rules the guidelines he should be truthfully compeley disclose his property his assets dun sa liability lagi niya siansabi personal loan eh personal loan sasabihin mo kung sino inuutangan mo wala rin doon sa saln.”
Paras added, “meron pa kaming isang ground yung unexplained wealth doon naman sa nireveal ng kaniyang maybahay this beyond domestic. quarrel kasi blessing in disguise that because of that we were able to find out nalaman natin very mind boggling yung pagcaccumulate ng wealth from baseco pcgg upto the point he is now chairman what is very fatal he took money from smartmatic through divina law office”
Paras also said, “betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the constitution for his failure to be truthful with his SALN…. on the other hand yung isang ground his failure to include these assets which was revealed by his wife in his SALN”
Paras also said, “aside from the SALN if you recall there was abig event which was the hacking of the comeleaks and yes betrayal of public trust because it delves on his competence as head of agency this is not from our own determination it was a determination by the National privacy commission which determined probable cause against chairman bautista for his lackadaisical attiude for dealing with the problem”
Paras liekwise said, “the last one is also with regards to the script tweak if you rememebr candidate bongbong marcos has raised this issue after he raised that issue lumalabas pinagtatakpan ni chairman bautista o thats mere cosmetic the congressman jonathan dela cruz filed a case and the DOJ has given due course and established probable cause against smartmatic”
Luna explained, “there are 5 because we have alleged that there is unexplained acquisition of ill gotten wealth this a spearate ground of graft and corruption and theres a receipt of referral fees which is tantamount to betrayal of public and trust and graft and corruption and bribery we have 5 grounds….we have certified copies of documents we have hurdled the requirement of personal knowledge our complaint is not anchored solely on the disclosures of Mrs patricia Bautista we have anchored our complaint mainly on the certified documents issued by the National privacy Commission, the office of the Ombudsman and as well as our documents filed with the NBI we script changes theres probable cause in so far as the doj is concerned the doj has indicted smartmatic personnel led by marlon garcia and some comelec IT specialists mga passbooks at the proper time they will be testifed upon and subpoena maybe issued by the House.”
now that it has been filed and endorsed, the complaint will be endorsed to the Justice Committee which will then test the complaint for sufficiency of form and substance.
Under House rules, A verified complaint for impeachment by a Member of the House or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member that shall be filed with the office of the Secretary General shall be immediately referred to the Speaker. The Speaker shall have it included in the Order of Business within ten (10) session days from receipt. It shall then be referred to the Committee on Justice within three (3) session days thereafter.