House electoral committee expects Comelec’s Bautista in August 14 hearing

August 8, 2017 - 8:11 PM
Andres Bautista
Comelec chairman Andres Bautista. File Photo by EDD GUMBAN, Philstar

MANILA, Philippines – Embattled Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista is to appear in a hearing at the House of Representatives on August 14, Monday, when the committee on suffrage and electoral reforms tackles the prospective postponement of the barangay elections.

Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna, the head of the committee, said Bautista has confirmed his attendance to speak on the postponement of the October 2017 polls.

Tugna elaborated that part of the discussion could revolve around the spat between Bautista and his estranged wife, Patricia Bautista, as the Comelec chief has been accused of keeping unexplained wealth and other issues having to do with the election system, which he denied.

The majority of the House members have agreed in an earlier caucus to pass a bill postponing the barangay elections to May 2018. The incumbent officials are to be retained in a holdover capacity.

“The main reason in favor of the postponement raised during the meeting was so that it complements the administration’s war on drugs. President Duterte, in his public statements, had called for the postponement of elections so the elections and barangay politics will not interfere with the ongoing fight to eradicate illegal drugs at the barangay level,” Tugna said.

As for the domestic controversy involving Bautista, Tugna said, “It’s important for him to address the matter, as our democracy rests on the election of leaders. If the integrity of the election process is clouded by these issues, it won’t look good for our society. We will give him due process.”

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said in a separate news conference, “let the proper forum resolve that with respect to infractions of the law.”

At least two resolutions have been filed – by Reps. Harry Roque and Edgar Erice – to look into the allegations of ill-acquired wealth by Bautista.

“The alleged linkages between the incumbent Comelec chief and the legal counsel of Venezuelan election technology supplier Smartmatic, cast doubt on the integrity and validity of the 2016 elections, as well as damage the reputation and credibility of a constitutionally mandated commission,” Erice said.

“A legislative inquiry is necessary to restore confidence on the Commission on Elections, as well as ferret out the truth through a complete partial inquiry,” he added.