MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista said he will face his impeachment trial and will await the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte on his offer to resign by the end of the year.
“‘Andyan na ‘yan kaya kailangang harapin ang mangyayari sa mga darating na araw … Sa akin kung iyong impeachment process ay uusad eh ‘di harapin natin (It’s there and we’ll need to face whatever happens in the coming days … In my opinion, if the impeachment process proceeds then we should face it),” he told radio station dzMM a day after the House of Representatives impeached him.
As to his offer to resign by the end of the year, which he bared just before he was impeached, Bautista said he is leaving his fate up to the Duterte.
He defended his decision to leave by year end, calling it “reasonable” not to step down immediately and to allow for a smooth and orderly transition and give Duterte time to find a replacement.
“Bilang paggalang sa kanya (Out of respect for him), let’s give him the option and let him decide kung ano ba ang pinaka-mabuti sa bayan (what’s best for the country),” he said. “Ang feeling ko naman ay reasonable ang ginawa ko (I feel what I did is reasonable), it’s according to best practices.”
Bautista bared his plan to resign in a letter to Comelec personnel that he made public on Wednesday, October 11. He said he had also submitted a resignation letter to Duterte.
In the afternoon, the House impeached him after a majority of the chamber’s member voted 137-75 voted to reject the justice committee report dismissing the impeachment complaint against Bautista for lack of form.
Here’s a video report on the reactions of some legislators, filed by News5’s Romel Lopez:
The complaint was filed by former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio for corruption and betrayal of public trust. The filing of the complaint was triggered by the claims of his estranged wife that the poll chief had amassed illegal wealth.
Bautista said that before submitting his letter to Duterte, he met with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Tuesday and told him about his plan to resign. He said he made up his mind about stepping down after the law postponing the October 2017 barangay elections was signed and after the Comelec defended its budget for 2018.
The justice committee is expected to prepare the Articles of Impeachment to be sent to the Senate, which will sit as an impeachment court that will try the case.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III earlier said the trial could begin by the end of November or the first week of December.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Bautista could avoid the trial by stepping down immediately.