Palace denies hand in impeach bids vs Bautista, Sereno

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 23 2017 02:54 PM

MANILA – Malacañang on Wednesday said it has nothing to do with moves to impeach Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, both facing oust attempts by those known to support President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said this as a group bared its plan to file an impeachment case against Bautista, the latest ouster threat against an official since complaints were filed against Sereno earlier this month. 

“We don’t have any official notice regarding the matter. Kung meron man siguro, let it be properly processed… We don’t have anything to do with that,” Abella told reporters in a chance interview.

Lawyer Manuelito Luna, legal counsel of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), told ANC on Wednesday that the group was set to file an impeachment complaint against Bautista as he faced allegations of having P1 billion in undeclared wealth.

The complaint is expected to be endorsed by Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque.

Bautista's wife Patricia earlier claimed she had discovered bank and real property documents, and several passbooks under her husband's name that were not included in his 2016 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Among the documents Patricia showed were passbooks under two branches of the Luzon Development Bank amounting to a total of P300 million. She also showed envelopes that were apparently pay slips, still with cash inside.

The Comelec chief, however, denied his wife's claim that he did not declare nearly P1 billion of his wealth and accused her of attempting to extort money from him and having an affair.

He earlier told ANC that a part of his wealth came from earnings of his family's investments.

Luna said Bautista's non-disclosure of his assets in his SALN is the group's most potent ground for unseating the poll chief.

The VACC and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution also earlier filed an impeachment complaint against Sereno for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes.

Asked whether the administration was working on ousting Sereno, an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III, Abella said: “No, we are not like that.”

Aside from Sereno, an impeachment complaint was filed against Vice President Leni Robredo, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, but it has yet to be endorsed by a lawmaker.