MANILA — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday questioned the move of Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Andres Bautista to submit his resignation to President Rodrigo Duterte saying he should have submitted his resignation to the Comelec en banc.
“I am not a lawyer but I don’t think it is even proper to submit Chairman Bautista’s resignation to the president,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
“Comelec is a constitutional body and I asked some lawyers about this. I think the proper way to do it is to submit his resignation to the Comelec en banc,” he added.
In an October 13 television interview, Duterte said he has accepted the resignation of Bautista as Comelec chair saying it would be better off if he resigned so that there would be no trouble.
Bautista tendered his resignation effective December 31, 2017 – the same day the House of Representatives (HOR) announced their decision to impeach him.
Lacson added that the Comelec chair was independent and not under the executive branch so it was not necessary for him to submit his resignation to the President.
“Why would he submit it to the president? The president, while he is the appointing authority, Chairman Bautista is like any chairperson of any constitutional body…Independent,” Lacson said.
Although Bautista explained that this was to give the President time to appoint, Lacson said that Duterte could not appoint unless there was a vacancy.
“But anong basis ng president mag-appoint kung nariyan pa siya? Mag-appoint ang president kung may vacancy (The president can only appoint if there’s a vacancy). So I don’t know,” Lacson said.
Lacson also felt that the House of Representatives rushed Bautista’s impeachment.
“Minadali ng HOR yung impeachment, overturning even the justice committee recommendation. Mukhang may dynamics, mukhang may usapan sila (The HOR rushed the impeachment, overturning even the justice committee recommendation. It seems like they have the dynamics, it seems like they agreed on something),” Lacson said.
“Ako, kung ako mag-analyze, may nangyari in between mukhang may kasunduan si Chairman Bautista and HOR leadership, ‘huwag ninyo ako impeach sa HOR, magre-resign na lang ako (The way I analyze it, there was an agreement between Chairman Bautista and the HOR leadership, ‘Don’t impeach me, I’m going to resign instead,’” he added.
Lacson said despite Bautista’s resignation, his impeachment trial should continue.
“As long as he’s there, and the articles of impeachment is transmitted to the Senate, we will have to go through the process of the impeachment trial,” Lacson said.
President Duterte earlier said that Bautista’s decision to resign meant that he has already “removed himself.” (PNA)