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Philippines chief poll administrator impeached hours after announcing resignation

Bautista bids farewell to Comelec amid allegations by his own wife that he had engaged in shady deals

Gulf News

Manila: Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista was impeached on Wednesday, hours after he announced his plan to resign by the yearend.

The House of Representatives voted 137-75-2 to impeach Bautista, who resigned after months in the limelight amid allegations by his own wife that he amassed ill-gotten wealth.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that Bautista should be made to answer the “very serious” allegations of shady deals with election technology contractor Smartmatic.

On Wednesday morning, Bautista had given his resignation letter to President Rodrigo Duterte. 

“It is with deep sadness that I am informing you about my decision to resign as the Chair of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) by the end of the year,” Bautista said in the letter.

Bautista said his main reason for his resignation was to “give more time to his family.”

“I believe that this is the right time to step down given the postponement of the Barangay (village) and SK (Sanguniang Kabataan or Youth Council) elections. This was not an easy decision. But my family, especially my children, need me now more than ever,” he said.

Duterte had cancelled the two grassroots vote scheduled on October 23 saying that pushing through with the elections could affect the electoral results since the government is not yet finished with its campaign against drugs. The two polls had been moved instead to May 2018.

Bautista expressed gratitude to Comelec employees for supporting him. “Amid the hurtful, baseless, and malicious accusations hurled against me, most of you never left my side,” he said.

The Comelec chief had presided over conduct of the 2016 presidential elections that resulted in the election of Duterte.

“The May 2016 automated National and Local elections is a testament to our collective sacrifices and teamwork, as it was hailed by the independent local and foreign observers as the best managed and most credible in our electoral history,” Bautista said.

The controversy involving Bautista started in August when his own wife, Patricia Paz Bautista, publicly accused him of amassing at least a billion pesos from supposed shady deals as chief of the poll administration body.

Patricia said her husband — the couple had since been estranged — had hidden from her the money.

She said the assets and bank deposits kept by her husband were not declared in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), which is required by law from government officials.

“I understand that Andy (Andres Bautista), being a high ranking public official, should be accountable and transparent to the public about all these finances, properties and money which, obviously, he was not,” she had said then.

But the siblings of Bautista said that the money kept in his bank account were not solely his, but were part of accounts that the family maintains.

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