Comelec chief ready to face impeachment complaint

MANILA -- Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Andres Bautista on Thursday claimed he is ready to face the impeachment complaint filed against him.

Bautista made the statement after finally making an appearance at the deliberation on the Comelec's proposed PHP16.1-billion budget for 2018 at the House of Representatives.

The House appropriations committee on Wednesday deferred its consideration of the Comelec's 2018 budget after Bautista failed to show up at the hearing due to a scheduled meeting with his children's guidance counselors.

Former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio also filed on Wednesday an impeachment complaint against Bautista on the grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust amid hidden-wealth allegations.

The verified impeachment complaint secured the endorsement of Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque, and Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino.

Although the embattled poll chief has yet to read the complaint, he said: "Sabi ko nga, 'yan ay ipapaliwanag sa tamang panahon at sa tamang lugar.

Bautista said he is weighing out all the options, including taking a leave of absence or resigning from his post, in consideration of the interests of his family and the Comelec.

Ngayon ang ating mga tinitimbang kung anong mga susunod na hakbang at syempre gusto nating protektahan yung mga interes unang-una ng ating pamilya, ang interes din ng ating Comelec. Kaya't yan ang ating pinag-aaralan, pinag-iisipan, at pinagdarasal, Bautista said.

The complainants said Bautista betrayed public trust for failing to adopt safeguards under the Data Privacy Act (Republic Act No. 10173) that could have prevented the data breach or hacking of the Comelec website in March last year.

Bautista also fell short in his duties and responsibilities as poll chief when he failed to promptly act on the hacking of the Comelec website, as well as declined to assume direct control and supervision of the task force created after the incident, the complainants noted.

Furthermore, the complainants said Bautista betrayed public trust by obstructing justice when he cleared Smartmatic and Comelec IT specialists of any wrongdoing for the so-called script tweak during the consolidation/canvassing of results in the May 2016 elections.

The complainants also alleged that Bautista failed to properly disclose to the public his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) and the reported receipt of referral fees from the Smartmatic, the largest technology provider of the Comelec, through the Divina Law Office.

Bautista faces allegations from his estranged wife Patricia Paz who claimed that the poll body chief has undeclared wealth worth PHP1 billion.

Source: Philippine News Agency