MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE: 5:34 P.M) An impeachment complaint has been filed against Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
The complaint was filed by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and former congressman Jacinto Paras.
It was endorsed by Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia, Kabayan partylist Rep. Harry Roque and Cavite Rep. Abrahan Tolentino.
Bautista was allegedly keeping unexplained wealth of at least P1 billion as revealed by his wife, Patricia Paz Bautista.
The Comelec chairman has denied he amassed ill-gotten wealth, and said he can defend every single detail of his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net worth in the face of allegations by his wife that he kept over 30 accounts in just one thrift bank, the Luzon Development Bank, where deposits of less than P500,000–the amount at which anti-money laundering laws require transaction reports from banks — had been routinely made over time.
The Senate Banks committee opened Wednesday (Aug. 23) an inquiry into Bautista’s case, grilling Luzon Development Bank officials on how compliant they have been with the AMLA.
Roque said he was prompted to endorse the complaint after he was assured that Patricia would testify on her personal knowledge about her husband.
“I wouldn’t have endorsed it without the assurance from Mrs. Bautista that on the hearings, she will appear and attest to the truthfulness of the affidavit and bring all the documentary evidence she mentioned in her complaint affidavit,” Roque said.
Tolentino said he endorsed the complaint to give Bautista the opportunity to clear his name.
Garcia said she hopes the impeachment process would shed light on the controversies surrounding the election’s automated system.
“I have always had my serious doubts about the automated voting system and I think this is the right time to see and to check on the veracity as well as the credibility of the automated voting system,” she said.
The complaint accused Bautista of culpably violating the Constitution and/or betraying public trust in the following circumstances, among others:
• When he failed to truthfully, accurately or completely disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
• When he neglected his duties and responsibilities, particularly in collecting and further processing of personal data, which led to the unnecessary exposure of personal and sensitive information of millions of Filipinos;
• When he cleared Smartmatic and Comelec IT specialists of any wrongdoing for the so-called script tweak during consolidation and canvassing of results in the May 2016 elections.