EMBATTLED COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista has hinted at stepping down from office rather than risk going through an impeachment ordeal.
Bautista explained that an impeachment trial would affect a lot of people, including his children, but stressed that his ultimate goal was for truth and justice to prevail.
“If it was just me, sure I would [go through the impeachment process]in order to vindicate myself. But, at the same time, I recognize that there would be other people who’d be be brought in and, going to be messy,” Bautista said in an interview over the ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday.
He acknowledged that the allegations of his estranged wife, Patricia, about his supposed P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth and misdeclaration of his 2016 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) have placed the Comelec’s integrity at risk.
“I’ve thought about it. But as I’ve said, I won’t stick to any position, private or public, if I deemed that I would be more of a liability rather than an asset to the institution,” Bautista said. “But what I can tell right now is I have done nothing wrong.
Bautista said his top concern was the welfare of his four children, ages 8 to 14 years old, who, he said, “can’t fully grasp [the situation].”
“For me their interest is most important in the whole equation. That’s what I’m trying to weigh [things],” he said.
‘2016 polls not tainted’
On Thursday, the lawyer of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo said the allegations against Bautista by his estranged wife, Patricia, did not taint the results of the 2016 polls.
“There is no legal nor factual basis to immediately jump into conclusion that the personal and serious family feud between Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista and his wife Patricia, could cast any doubt in the credibility and integrity of the 2016 national and local elections. While Patricia presented before the media alleged evidence of hidden or ill-gotten wealth of Bautista, there was no mention of any act committed by the latter that had compromised the results of the said elections,” Macalintal said.
Macalintal is representing Robredo in the election protest file by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in connection with the 2016 vice-presidential race.
“Patricia never mentioned any alleged commission or referral fees received by Bautista for purposes of cheating or rigging the said elections in favor of any candidate. There is a big difference between commissions received to favor a bidder and commissions received to cheat the elections,” Macalintal added.
Macalintal argued that it was physically impossible for Bautista alone, or even the entire Comelec to rig or manipulate the automated elections system (AES) to favor a particular candidate or political party.
To do so would have involved a conspiracy with other entities such as the central bank, the official depository of the AES source code, Comelec regional directors and provincial election supervisors, AES provider Smartmatic and others.
“As a Christian, I could only offer my prayers for Bautista and his family. What they need is not legal nor political intervention; but Divine and God’s intervention and the intercession of Mama Mary, for a family that prays together, stays together,” Macalintal added.
with LLANESCA T. PANTI