Comelec commissioners ask Bautista to take a leave or resign

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines' election commissioners urged their chairman, Andres Bautista, to consider resigning as he faces an impeachment complaint and a feud over money with his wife. 

All 6 commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) pushed Bautista to either take a leave or resign, as they held a hastily called press conference at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City on Thursday, August 24.

"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 commissioners said in a statement read by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim.

This comes a day after lawmakers endorsed an impeachment complaint against Bautista. 

The complaint revolved around the "Comeleaks" hacking incident in 2016 and Bautista's alleged lack of truthfulness in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).

The following Comelec commissioners signed the joint statement on Thursday:

In their statement, the Comelec commissioners said Bautista needs to take a leave or resign "for his own sake, for the sake of his career, and most importantly, for the sake of his family particularly his 4 innocent children."

They cited the impeachment complaint filed against Bautista and the charges and counter-charges filed by Bautista and his estranged wife, Patricia. (READ: The making of a scandal: Comelec chair Andy vs Patricia Bautista)

They said Bautista's absence at the Comelec budget hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, August 23, is proof that he "needs to devote all his time to his defense and family."

"In our view, while due process of law will take its normal course, Chair Bautista's defense will not only be spirited but arduous, to say the least. He will need to devote all his time, energy, and effort."

"Unfortunately, Chair Bautista has not made good on his promise that he would inform us soonest on his course of action of either a leave of absence or resignation. More than two weeks have elapsed since then," the 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.

Sought by Rappler for comment, Bautista said he was surprised by the 6 commissioners' move.

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