COMELEC Chair Andres Bautista resigned on Wednesday morning, October 11, 2017. This comes as a culmination of the Bautista family saga, amidst corruption allegations hurled by his wife that Bautista amassed worth P1 billion of ill-gotten wealth.
On September 20, 2017, the House of Representatives Committee on Justice junked the impeachment complaint filed against COMELEC Chair Andy Bautista. Voting 26-2, the committee dismissed the complaint filed by former Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and declared it insufficient in form.
Fast forward to the morning of October 11, 2017, COMELEC Chair Bautista resigned, effective December 31, 2017. Bautista said in an open letter posted on his social media accounts, “It is with my deep sadness that I am informing you about my decision to resign as the chair of the Commission on Elections by the end of the year.” It was addressed to his “Comelec family.”
In an impromptu press conference held minutes after Bautista resigned, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said, “It’s okay. It’s his prerogative. But the committee report of the Committee on Justice dismissing the impeachment complaint is already scheduled before plenary. We will vote on it later… There’s a possibility that the House overturns the committee unless he [Bautista] says his resignation is effective immediately.”
In the afternoon of October 11, 2017, the House then voted to overturn the earlier justice committee resolution that junked the complaint. Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali voted to adopt the report of the Committee on Justice dismissing the complaint against Bautista, but 137 House members voted against Rep. Umali’s motion. Ninety-eight (98) members of the House are required to override the dismissal. This made COMELEC Chair Andres Bautista the first official to be impeached under the Duterte administration.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez himself voted against the dismissal of the complaint. “I believe that the charges against Bautista are very serious. With that, I vote no,” he said. Following the chamber’s decision, the House justice panel will now prepare the articles of impeachment against Bautista to be submitted to the Senate for trial. However, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said that the Senate would no longer hold an impeachment trial for poll chief Andres Bautista once it receives official word from Malacañang that President Rodrigo Duterte accepted his resignation.
In a taped interview at state-run PTV-4, the President said he was surprised upon learning that the House went on with the impeachment when he had received the Comelec chairman’s resignation filed through the Office of the Executive Secretary and had accepted Bautista’s decision.
“Nagtaka ako (I wondered), it was the other day, he has (filed) resignation. Mukhang pinirmahan ko (It looks like I signed it). I don’t know if you can still impeach him or not. By resigning, he has removed himself,” Duterte said. Bautista, on the other hand, said he will wait for official communication from Malacañang regarding his resignation.