Bautista leaves resigning, going on leave to God

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EMBATTLED Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista is not about to give up his post or file a leave of absence despite a pending impeachment complaint against him before the House of Representatives for alleged unexplained wealth.

Bautista, in a radio interview, on Friday said it is the sign he has received while soul-searching and praying for guidance as his marital problem with wife, Patricia, has already affected his family and the Comelec as an institution.

He added that he has read a book, which says that God answers a prayer only in three ways, “either yes, not yet or I have a better plan for you.”

Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista

On whether he should file a leave of absence or resign, Bautista said, “Parang ang sagot sa akin [it appears that the answer to me]not yet.”

But, according to the Comelec chief, it still remains to be seen as events unfold on his impeachment case, saying he continues to ponder and pray on what to do for the welfare of his family and the country.

The House Committee on Justice will tackle the impeachment complaint against Bautista next week to determine if it is sufficient in form and substance.

The complaint , filed by Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, was for Bautista’s “failure to file his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution, glaring disproportionality between his income as Comelec [chairman]and his 2016 SALN, reported receipt of referral fees or commissions from the Divina Law Office and incessant pattern of arbitrary, unilateral or unauthorized acts in breach of collegiality to the great prejudice of the public.”

The pieces of evidence presented by the complainants were based on documents submitted by Bautista’s estranged wife to the National Bureau of Investigation, alleging, among others, that the Comelec chief has amassed P1 billion in ill-gotten while serving in the government.

Part of the evidence were certified copies of Bautista’s 35 bank accounts with the Luzon Development Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. peso account document and the Comelec chairman’s 2016 SALN.

Mrs. Bautista also alleged that her husband received some P500,000 in referral fees from technology provider Smartatic Corp. through the Divina Law, where Bautista’s close friend and lawyer Nilo Divina is senior partner.

Bautista maintained that he has no ill-gotten wealth and what he declared in his 2016 SALN were truthful, saying the allegations were “complete falsehood.”

After the filing of the impeachment complaint, all six other members of the Comelec en banc called on Bautista to either go on leave or step down from his post.

The six, Commissioners Christian Robert Lim, Luie Tito Guia, Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon, Al Parreño, Sheriff M. Abas and Arthur Lim, signed a statement, saying “the time for him to let go has come.”

“The undersigned Comelec commissioners, having at heart the best interests of the service, and motivated by a deep sense of duty to our people, are constrained to come out in the open to strongly and urgently urge [Chairman] J. Andres D. Bautista, to go on LEAVE OF ABSENCE for such period as may be necessary or RESIGN for his own sake, for the sake of his career, and most important, for the sake of his family, particularly his four innocent children,” the statement said.

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