MANILA - An anti-crime group on Wednesday filed an impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista, accusing him of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
The complaint stemmed from allegations he misdeclared his wealth in his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), and that he violated the Data Privacy Act when voters' personal data were leaked in 2016.
Cebu 3rd District Rep. Gwen Garcia, Tagaytay 7th District Rep. Abraham N. Tolentino and Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque endorsed the complaint, paving the way for the House justice committee to tackle the complaint and determine whether or not it is sufficient in form and substance.
“I wouldn't have endorsed it without the assurance from Mrs. Bautista that on the hearings she will appear and attest to the truthfulness of his affidavit and bring all the documentary evidence she mentioned in her complaint affidavit," Roque said.
Meanwhile, Tolentino said he endorsed the complaint to give the Comelec chief an "opportunity to refute, to clear his name."
Garcia said she has doubts on the automated voting system and it is the right time to check on its "veracity" and "credibility."
The complaint was filed by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras, who were assisted by Manuelito Luna.
Paras said Bautista could also be held liable for the "Comeleaks," or the data leak that allegedly compromised the security and identities of about 55 million Filipino voters in the 2016 elections.
"Aside from the SALN, if you recall there was...the hacking of the Comeleaks and yes betrayal of public trust because it delves on his competence as head of agency. It was a determination by the National Privacy Commission which determined probable cause against Chairman Bautista for his lackadaisical attitude for dealing with the problem," Paras said.
Luna, meanwhile, said their complaint is anchored not only on Mrs. Bautista's statements.
"We have certified copies of documents. We have hurdled the requirement of personal knowledge. Our complaint is not anchored solely on the disclosures of Mrs. Patricia Bautista," he said.
Bautista's estranged wife, Patricia, earlier claimed she discovered bank and real property documents and several passbooks under her husband's name that were not included in his SALN.
The Comelec chief has denied the charge and accused his wife of having an affair and attempting to extort a P620 million settlement. --With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News