UPDATE: Comelec Chairman Bautista resigns, says no ‘trade off’

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COMMISSION on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista has resigned although he would be staying until the end of the year.

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Bautista himself made the announcement in a post on his twitter account @ChairAndyBau on Wednesday.

”It is with deep sadness that IO am informing you about my decision to resign as Chair of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) by the end of the year,” said Bautista in a signed letter addressed to “My Comelec family” dated today.

”After much prayer and discernment. I believe that this is the right time to step down given the postponement of the Barangay and SK elections,” said Bautista, referring to President Rodrigo’s approval of a law moving the village and Sangguniang Kabataan or youth polls from October to 2018.

READ: Duterte approves postponement of Barangay, SK polls

Bautista said that his decision was “not easy” but that “my family, especially my children need me now more than ever.”|

Bautista’s resignation comes amid allegations of hidden wealth by his estranged wife Patricia.

This became the basis of an impeachment complaint that the committee on justice of the House of Representatives dismissed on September 20.

READ: Bautista impeachment comlplaint dismissed in House

Below is the full text of Bautista’s letter:

No trade off’

Bautista clarified that there was “no ex-deal or trade off” in his decision to resign.

Bautista issued this statement at a press conference at the weekly Kapihan at the Manila Bay forum at Café Adriatico  in Malate, Manila, adding that the decision was a vindication as it proved that the charges were fabricated and baseless.

“The House Committee on Justice has done a good job because it used the same rules in the impeachment cases of  other [government]officials and my impeachment case. So if you look at the law and rules of the House Justice Committee, it shows that they were just observing what they were doing and they were not playing favorites,” the poll chief said.

Bautista said that his decision to step down was not a spur of the moment move but precipitated by events and his continued prayers and discernment  for guidance on what to do for the welfare of his family and good of the  country.

Aside from family reasons, Bautista said that there was not much work to do now in the Comelec until early 2018 following the postponement of the village and youth polls, and the Comelec’s budget was also set to be approved anytime soon. He said he would have  announced his retirement at a later date if the twin polls  were not moved to May 2018.

“I always weigh things if I can still be of help or a burden to the institution and its effect on my family and my position. At this point, my feeling is I should give more time and importance to my family. And that’s really the reason why I have tendered my resignation,” Bautista said.

As to the December 31, 2017 effectivity of his resignation, Bautista said that he wanted to give the President time to choose a new Comelec chairman and effect a smooth transition.

At the same time, Bautista said that he has still a commitment to fulfill as chairperson of the Association of Asean Electoral Authorities in a scheduled meeting with his counterparts to be held in Cebu in December.

Bautista said that he has not talked to the President about his resignation but admitted that he was keeping an open mind if ever advised to stay put.

“We will cross the bridge when we get there. I am open about  that. We can’t predict what will happen and if the request is reasonable  [how can you refuse], much more if it is the President [who is asking],” he added.

Bautista’s staunch critic,  Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, said that  what the Comelec chief submitted to the President was not really a resignation letter “but an intent to resign, meaning it could change.”

“It was an announcement but not a resignation letter addressed to the Commission En Banc. But it is good that he has decided so he will have peace of mind and focus on his children,” Guanzon told The Manila Times.

Bautista pointed out though that as an appointed official, he should submit his resignation to the appointing authority, which is the Office of the President, as the Comelec was constitutional body.

He said that the Comelec en banc would only come into play if the President has not yet appointed a new chairman after the effectivity of his resignation, saying that in such a scenario it would be the en banc that should decide who among the six sitting commissioners would act as chairman.

“Jurisprudence states that if  there is no new chairman, the Comelec en banc will  decide. That’s the case of former Commissioner Haydee Yorac versus [former Comelec Chairman Sixto]Brillantes. The President can’t appoint an acting chairman, only the en banc,” Bautista said.

 

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