House panel junks impeach raps vs Comelec chief Bautista

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2017 12:09 PM | Updated as of Sep 20 2017 03:25 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The House justice committee on Wednesday dismissed the impeachment complaint against Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista for being insufficient in form.

Voting 26-2, the House panel declared the impeachment complaint insufficient in form because of its defective verification, a basis used in previous decisions by the committee.

Representatives Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list and Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu, endorsers of the complaint, first moved to declare the impeachment raps sufficient in substance.

But Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman pointed out that the committee previously junked an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno because of the same defect.

Other lawmakers said Roque's submission of a substitute verification that seeks to amend the impeachment is proof that there is a defect in the complaint.

Roque tried to argue that the statements of the poll chief's wife, Patricia Bautista, on which the impeachment complaint is anchored, were all first-hand information based on personal knowledge.

But Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Fariñas argued that the wife should have been the complainant, and not lawyer Ferdinand Topacio‏ and former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras.

He cited the impeachment complaint by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano against President Rodrigo Duterte, where the lawmaker used a statement of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato.

"In his impeachment complaint, Alejano alleged Matobato knew of several EJK (extra-judicial killings). Dapat si Matobato ang complainant so his verification will stand water," Fariñas said.

The House panel found Alejano's complaint sufficient in form but was later on shot down for lack of sufficiency in substance.

Meanwhile, the Comelec chief said he welcomes the decision of the House committee and thanked the lawmakers for being objective in their decision.

Speaking to ANC, he said the dismissal of the impeachment complaint is a significant step in clearing his name from what he calls "malicious" accusations by his estranged wife.

"To my mind, this proves to be a significant step in clearing my name after the malicious accusations that were hurled against me as I have always maintained the allegations are fabricated and baseless," Bautista said.