MANILA, Philippines – "We remain undeterred, this is just the beginning."
Patricia Bautista, estranged wife of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista, admitted feeling "disappointed" that the House justice committee on Wednesday, September 20, voted to junk an impeachment complaint against her husband because of insufficiency in form.
During a hearing to tackle the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and former Negros Occidental representative Jacinto Paras, 26 members of the committee voted against a motion to deem the complaint sufficient in form. The committee head earlier voted against accepting a substitute verification of the complaint.
Committee members found the complaint defective since it failed to show that the private complainants, who are members of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), have personal knowledge of the allegations in their complaint.
Topacio and Paras wanted Bautista impeached because of alleged ill-gotten wealth and for supposedly failing to prevent and address a data breach in 2016.
"This is just a bump in the road but as in all things we remain committed. I believe in the goodness, the goodwill, and the good sense of the Filipino people. We are a lot smarter than we are perceived to be in many ways, I guess," said Patricia in a chance interview with reporters after the hearing.
It was Patricia's allegations that triggered the controversy which the Comelec chair now finds himself in. Patricia said she discovered alleged undeclared properties and that her husband had amassed more than P1 billion in his years as Presidential Commission on Good Government chairman and later, as Comelec chief. (READ: The making of a scandal: Comelec chair Andy vs Patricia Bautista)
Patricia said she wasn't surprised by the committee vote, pointing out that her husband "knows many people in high places."
"Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I deterred? Absolutely not," she told reporters.
When asked what she wanted to tell her husband, Patricia declined to comment, pointing out that there were proper venues for that.
Kabayan Representative Harry Roque, who endorsed the complaint, said he too wasn't surprised because representatives – as elected officials – may have qualms going against a Comelec official.
Lorna Kapunan, Patricia's lawyer, said they had wanted the NBI to finish its investigation first. She said they were "surprised" that Topacio and Paras went ahead and filed the complaint.
During the committee hearing, Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas had pointed out that Patricia – and not Topacio and Paras – should have been the private complainant.