Monday July 23, 2018

Poll commissioners ask Bautista to leave Comelec

ALL six commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday issued a statement “strongly and urgently” asking embattled poll chief Juan Andres Bautista to leave the agency, either temporarily or for good.

“[We are urging Bautista to go on leave or resign] for his own sake, for the sake of his career, and, most importantly, for the sake of his family, particularly his four innocent children,” they said.

Commissioners Christian Robert Lim, Al Parreño, Luie Tito Guia, Arthur Lim, Rowena Guanzon, and Sheriff Abas signed the statement.

Few hours later, Bautista said his colleagues in Comelec will be the first to know his decision in the coming days.

"As I have publicly stated, these are options that I have been considering and praying over. When I decide, they will be the first to know," Bautista said in a text message to reporters.

Earlier in the day, Bautista said that taking a leave of absence and even quitting are part of his options amid the impeachment complaint filed against him in the House of Representatives.

The six commissioners held a press conference after their budget presentation at the House of Representatives, where they were joined by Bautista to defend Comelec's budget proposal for 2018.

The poll officials cited the impeachment complaint filed against their chairman as their main reason for their call, as looming legal process may need his undivided attention.

"In our view, while due process of law will take its normal course, Chair Bautista's defense will not only be spirited but arduous, to say the least. He will need to devote all his time, energy, and effort," the commissioners said.

They added that "[t]he time for him to let go has come."

"With all due respect, it is our consensus that Chair Bautista can no longer effectively lead the Commission," they said.

Last Wednesday, three lawmakers endorsed an impeachment complaint against Bautista, citing as one of the grounds the accusation of his estranged wife that he has accumulated "ill-gotten wealth" of almost P1 billion. (With Keith Calayag/SunStar Philippines)