Panel to tackle Bautista case
The House of Representatives is set to deliberate on the articles of impeachment to be filed against Comelec Chair Andres Bautista on Oct. 18. Rep. Reynaldo Umali, justice committee chair, said that before proceedings are initiated in the Senate in November, his panel might have to shore up the case first.
The House of Representatives is set to deliberate on the articles of impeachment to be filed against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Andres Bautista on Oct. 18.
Justice committee chair, Rep. Reynaldo Umali, told reporters in a phone interview that before proceedings were initiated in the Senate in November, his panel might have to shore up the case first so an airtight case could be prosecuted in the impeachment court.
Umali said that “if it will suffice, then we may adopt” the complaint filed by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio.
“We may have to subpoena some people and/or some documents,” he said.
The justice committee had not tackled at length the substance of the complaint. The committee on Sept. 20 initially dismissed it for insufficiency in form, due to a flawed verification form.
The House plenary on Oct. 11 voted 137-75-2 to override the committee’s recommendation and directed it to prepare the articles of impeachment to be transmitted to the Senate.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Thursday said that the committee should had at least been allowed to thresh out the substance of the complaint first.
Lawmakers in favor of Bautista’s impeachment said he might be bluffing when he announced his plan to resign “by the end of the year” on the morning of Oct. 11. This led them to conclude he should be impeached to avoid giving him a year’s reprieve from subsequent impeachment attempts.
Calling the impeachment of Bautista a “total farce,” former Comelec chief Sixto Brillantes Jr. advised his successor to follow due process in the looming trial in the Senate.
“I’m fully aware that the impeachment process is both political and legal. But in his case, there is no doubt that it is totally, absolutely and purely political. All legal aspects were brushed aside,” Brillantes said.
Brillantes made the remarks on his Facebook account on Thursday.
“My humble advice to Chair Andy (Bautista’s nickname): Do not heed to the seeming demand for immediate resignation,” Brillantes said.
He said the troubled poll chief should wait for the articles of impeachment to be elevated to the Senate.
“With such alternative intended steps at least you shall have afforded yourself due process which you were wittingly or unwittingly deprived by the 137 House members,” he said.
“[Bautista] never appeared before the House committee, was never informed of the specific charges against him, was not furnished a copy of the complaint, and was not required to answer and therefore there was absolutely no legal process that was undertaken in so far as he is concerned,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation’s probe of Bautista will go on despite his resignation by the end of the year, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Friday.