Comelec chair surprised by commissioners' call for his resignation

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista said he was surprised that all 6 of his fellow Comelec executives issued a strongly worded statement Thursday, August 24, urging him to take a leave or resign.

In a phone interview with Rappler, Bautista said: "Magkakasama kami kanina. Wala namang sinasabi sa aking magpapa-press con. Hindi man lang ako binusinahan." (We were together a while ago. They did not tell me they would hold a press con. They did not even give me a heads-up.)

Bautista pointed out that he was with the 6 Comelec commissioners just a few hours before they issued this statement in a hastily called press conference in Sulo Hotel, Quezon City.

Bautista said they all came from the Comelec's budget hearing at the House of Representatives from 9 am until past noon on Thursday.

From the House in Quezon City, Bautista went straight to the Senate in Pasay City for another Comelec-related hearing. 

Meanwhile, the 6 Comelec commissioners – Christian Robert Lim, Al Parreño, Luie Tito Guia, Arthur Lim, Rowena Amelia Guanzon, and Sheriff Abas – went straight to Sulo Hotel and held a 3 pm press conference. 

Bautista weighing pros and cons

In his phone interview with Rappler, Bautista said his colleagues could have raised their concerns privately or in their meetings.

"Having said that, the suggestions of taking a leave or resigning, these are things that I'm considering right now," Bautista said. 

"I'm weighing pros and cons of various interests, my personal interests, professional interests," the Comelec chairman added.

Earlier on Thursday, all 6 Comelec commissioners urged Bautista to consider taking a leave or resigning, as he faces an impeachment complaint and a feud over money with his wife. 

"With all due respect, it is our consensus that Chairman Bautista can no longer effectively lead the Commission. The time for him to let go has come," the 6 Comelec commissioners said.

The same Comelec commissioners issued a strongly worded memo in June 2016, hitting Bautista for a "failed leadership" of the Comelec, a claim that Bautista later denied. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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