MANILA – (UPDATED, 12:40a.m, Oct. 24) Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista may no longer need to face impeachment, after all. This, after Malacañang Palace on Monday accepted his resignation, “effective immediately,” prompting him to vacate his office at the end of Monday (Oct. 24).
In a letter to Bautista dated Oct. 23, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea referred to the resignation letter that the Comelec chairman had sent President Rodrigo Duterte, after Bautista wrote an open letter “to my Comelec family,” declaring an intent to vacate his post by end-2017.
Hours after Bautista’s declaration of a yearend timeline for resigning, however, the House of Representatives plenary voted to overrule a Justice Committee decision to dismiss an impeachment complaint against Bautista. That meant the HOR was determined to proceed with his impeachment.
As chairman of a constitutional body, Bautista has a fixed term and may only be removed if convicted by an impeachment court.
For weeks, there had been debates in legal circles over whether or not the HOR should proceed with his impeachment, given his declared intent to leave office by the end of December. However, some legal experts said the impeachment should proceed because Bautista can very easily go back on such declaration and remain in office, this time without the threat of impeachment hanging over his head.
Medialdea’s letter on Monday, however, appeared to have mooted the debate, by saying that, “Upon the instruction of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, I wish to inform you that your resignation is hereby accepted, effective immediately.”
Office vacated Monday
Bautista on Monday officially left his office after receiving the letter from Malacanang about 2pm.
In a press conference late Monday afternoon, the poll body chief said he will immediately vacate his position. “Kasi nga effective immediately ‘yung sulat. Kumbaga effective today yan (It is because the letter says it is effective immediately. It means it is effective today),” he said.
Asked how he feels after receiving the letter (at around 2 p.m.), he said he had mixed emotions. “I think it’s a mixture of feelings. Mami-miss ko mga tao sa Comelec. (I will miss some Comelec personnel) People would always ask me do I have any regret… kasi it’s almost two and half years din ako sa Comelec. If ever I have any regret it would be because of the people. Ang mga tao sa Comelec, karamihan mabubuting tao. Tapat sa tungkulin (Many Comelec personnel are loyal to their duties),” Bautista added.
The poll body chairman had tendered his resignation last October 11 with an effectivity date of December 31, 2017 citing the need to attend to his family’s needs as the main reason for resigning.
But, on the same day he tendered his resignation, the House of Representatives voted 137-75-2 to impeach Bautista.
With this, he is leaving it to Congress to determine whether his stepping down renders the impeachment trial moot and academic.
“Hayaan na natin. Sabi ko nga ayoko pangunahan ang kahit na sino pero ito nga may sagot na ang ating Pangulo (It is fine. As I’ve said, I don’t want to preempt anyone but now, the President has spoken),” he said.
Bautista believes that the acting chairman of the poll body will be discussed in the en banc on Tuesday.