Comelec chief skips House hearing on deferment of barangay polls

MANILA -- Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Juan Andres Bautista was absent during Monday's congressional hearing on the proposal to postpone the October 23 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

In a letter addressed to House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms chair Sherwin Tugna, Bautista informed the panel that he will be in a public hearing in Davao City on Tuesday on the postponement of the barangay polls and SK elections in Mindanao.

"It is unfortunate that I will not be able to attend because of a prior engagement in Davao City as the Comelec will conduct a public hearing on the postponement of barangay and SK elections in the entire Mindanao," Bautista said in his letter, which was read by Commissioner Arthur Lim.

Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque questioned Bautista's no-show at the House hearing.

Roque also asked if the recent controversy hounding Bautista, who was accused of allegedly amassing ill-gotten wealth, has affected his duties and responsibilities as poll chief.

Lim, in response, assured that the Comelec will continue to function with or without him.

We are a collegial body and with or without him, the Comelec will continue to function, that I can assure our people, Lim said.

Lim also noted that there might be some developments in the coming days regarding Bautista's course of action.

I am not privy and I am not in the position to tell, but it could be one of the three.continue to discharge his functions, and for the interest of the people, interest of the public, and interest of the institution, he may take a leave of absence or resign, Lim said.

Tugna, for his part, said he respects the decision of the poll chief to skip the hearing.

The House panel tackled at least five bills resetting the holding of the October 23 elections. Last Monday, the all-party caucus agreed to postpone it again to May 2018 to supposedly synchronize the barangay elections with the plebiscite for Charter Change and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Source: Philippine News Agency