Obtaining higher votes in the affirmative, the House Committee on Justice approved on Thursday the decision to junk the impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres “Andy” Bautista.
With 26 votes in the affirmative and two in the negative, the panel headed by Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali approved the dismissal of the committee report and the accompanying resolution for being “insufficient in form” due to its defective verification.
This came after 19 solons voted in favor of the move by Misamis Occidental Representative Henry Oaminal to affirm the case against Bautista insufficient. Only two members of the committee voted against it.
The impeachment complaint was filed by former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio before the House of Representatives on August 23. It was endorsed by Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque, Cebu Representative Gwen Garcia, and Cavite Representative Abraham Tolentino.
In the 18-page impeachment complaint, Bautista is accused of betrayal of public trust due to his alleged failure to immediately act on the hacking of the Comelec website which caused the data breach that saw personal data of millions of voters prior to the May 2016 polls and for receiving referral fees from electronic company Smartmatic through Divina Law Office.
Aside from this, Bautista was also accused of failing to disclose all his assets in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
Representative Rodolfo Fariñas on Thursday requested the committee to reassess the vote after raising that the panel should follow with impeachment rules on majority vote.
In a hearing on September 20, the House panel junked the impeachment complaint because of what it considered as flawed verification.
Meanwhile, in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, the Comelec chair said that he welcomed the decision of the committee to dismiss the impeachment complaint filed against him, saying that it is a “significant step in clearing his name.”
“I would like to thank the Committee and the House leadership for upholding the rule of law and for their objectivity and fairness,” he said.
“This proves to be a significant step in clearing my name after the malicious accusations hurled against me,” Bautista added.
The committee report and resolution would now be transferred to the House plenary for approval. However, if one-third of house members vote to reverse the dismissal of the complaint, the panel will have to put together the article of impeachment and submit it to the Senate for an impeachment trial.