Poll commissioners ask Bautista to go on leave or resign

MANILA -- Some six officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have turned their backs on Chairman Juan Andres Bautista after they asked him to take a leave of absence or resign, amidst controversies surrounding him including an impeachment compliant filed against him before the House of Representatives.

"The undersigned Comelec Commissioners, having at heart the best interest of the service, and motivated by a deep sense of duty to our people, are constrained to come out in the open to strongly and urgently urge Chair J. Andres D. Bautista to go on Leave of Absence for such period as may be necessary or Resign for his own sake, for the sake of his career, and most importantly, for the sake of his family particularly his four innocent children," said in a statement signed by Commissioners Christian Robert Lim, Al ParreAo, Luie Tito Guia, Arthur Lim, Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon and Sheriff Abas.

The poll commissioners believe that Bautista can longer function as head of the poll body.

"With all due respect, it is our consensus that Chair Bautista can no longer effectively lead the Commission," said the statement which was distributed at the press conference held Thursday afternoon in Quezon City.

"The time for him to let go has come," the Comelec Commissioners added.

They noted that Bautista's failure to attend Wednesday's hearing at the House

of Representatives is also a proof that their Chairman should take their advice.

"Proof that he (Bautista) needs to devote all his time to his defense and family was when he was absent in yesterday's hearing before the House of Committee on Appropriations as he had to bring his four children to a guidance counselor. The Commission was threatened with a one-peso budget; luckily the Commissioners present were able to convince the Committee to reset the hearing to this morning 24 August 2017," the statement said.

"In our view, while due process of law will take a normal course, Chair Bautista's defense will not only be spirited but arduous, to say the least. He will need to devote all his time, energy and effort," they added.

The top officials of the poll body noted that Bautista also failed to inform them about his course of action he would take.

"Unfortunately, Chair Bautista has not made good on his promise that he would inform us soonest in his course of action of either a leave of absence or resignation. More than 2 weeks have elapsed since then," they said.

Aside from the impeachment complaint, which was filed by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras on Wednesday and was immediately endorsed by House of Representatives officials, Bautista and his wife, Patricia are facing charges against each other.

It can be recalled that the Comelec chief's wife accused him of unexplained wealth amounting to close to PHP1 billion.

On the other hand, Bautista said taking a leave of absence or resign from office are options that he is considering.

"As I have publicly stated, these are options that I have been considering and praying over. When I decide, the (commissioners) will be the first to know," he said in a text message to reporters.

Meanwhile, the poll chief said he has filed charges before the Taguig Prosector's Office against his ex wife.

Source: Philippine News Agency