Bautista may now face plunder rap after losing immunity

By on October 24, 2017


FILE: Despite being spared from impeachment proceedings, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista may still face a plunder charge after losing his immunity from suit following his resignation. (PNA Photo)
FILE: Despite being spared from impeachment proceedings, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista may still face a plunder charge after losing his immunity from suit following his resignation. (PNA Photo)

MANILA — Despite being spared from impeachment proceedings, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista may still face a plunder charge after losing his immunity from suit following his resignation.

During a House Justice Committee hearing on Tuesday, lawyer Lorna Kapunan, legal counsel of Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia, proffered evidence regarding the poll chief’s bank accounts and reported receipt of “referral fees” from election technology contractor Smartmatic,

Kapunan said “there is basis and substance” in the plunder allegations against Bautista.

“We’ve leveled the playing field. He now cannot hide under the immunity. He will be sued at the proper time as private citizen Andy Bautista,” Kapunan said.

During the same hearing, the House Committee on Justice declared the impeachment proceedings against Bautista as “moot and academic” following his resignation.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, committee chair, said he had received the letter signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, dated October 23, that Bautista’s resignation had been accepted by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“There was an offer, there was an acceptance, so there is now a meeting of the minds. This meeting of the minds rendered this matter finished,” Umali said.

The House Justice Committee was supposed to deliberate on the articles of impeachment against Bautista after the plenary voted 137-75-2 to impeach him.

Bautista tendered his resignation last October 11 with an effectivity date of December 31, 2017, citing the need to attend to his family’s needs as the main reason for resigning.