MANILA – Chairman Juan Andres Bautista is out as head of the Commission on Elections.
This as President Rodrigo Duterte accepted his resignation “effective immediately.”
The President’s decision means Bautista will be spared from the rigors of an impeachment trial by the Senate acting as Impeachment Tribunal.
Bautista himself confirmed the President’s decision as he disclosed that Executive Secretary Salvador Salvador Medialdea sent a letter accepting his resignation effectively immediately.
“Ginagalang ko ang kanyang pasya,” Bautista said.
He said he has already informed the other poll directors about the President’s decision.
Lim was chosen via a unanimous vote of poll commissioners present during the Comelec en banc, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said.
Facing allegations of amassing P1 billion in unexplained wealth, Bautista earlier announced that he will resign by December 31 to give time for President Duterte to choose his successor.
However, the response of the Office of the President to his letter was that his resignation is effective immediately.
Bautista officially left his office on Monday, Oct. 23, after receiving a letter from Malacanang that his resignation has been accepted “effective immediately.”
Bautista became the first official to be impeached under the Duterte administration.
The House justice committee, chaired by Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, eventually declared the impeachment bid moot and academic with Bautista’s resignation.
Bautista, however, will still be facing plunder and other criminal cases filed by his estranged wife Patricia.
Bautista has now lost his immunity and will be sued “at the proper time,” the lawyer of his estranged wife told legislators.
Patricia Bautista showed up at the “anti-climactic” meeting of the House justice committee mooted by Malacañang’s acceptance
of her husband’s resignation effective immediately.
“We have leveled the playing field. He now cannot hide under the immunity of his office. He will be sued at the proper time… as private citizen Andy Bautista,” said the wife’s counsel, Lorna Kapunan.
Patricia Bautista’s allegations formed part of the bases of the impeachment complaint against her husband.
He allegedly amassed around P1 billion in unexplained wealth. He was also accused of receiving “commissions” for referring clients to a law firm of his friend, Nilo Divina.
The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into bank documents submitted by Patricia Bautista for a possible case against her husband.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, the justice committee chairman, thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for his “swift and decisive” action on Bautista resignation.
“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.
According to the letter signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, dated October 23, Bautista’s resignation has been accepted by President Rodrigo Duterte.
.“We refer to you(r) letter tendering you(r) resignation as Chairman of the Commission on Elections. Upon the instruction of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, I wish to inform you that your resignation is hereby accepted, effective immediately,” said the letter which was shared by Bautista to members of the media at a press briefing.
Asked on 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 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 him.
With this, he is leaving the decision to Congress whether his stepping down from post should mean that the impeachment trial is already 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 said that the acting chairman will be selected by the poll body and will stay as such until a new Comelec chairman is appointed.