The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) lauded the decision of Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Andres “Andy” Bautista for his decision to resign from his office.
PPCRV chairperson Rene Sarmiento said Bautista’s move was “laudable and praiseworthy.”
“What he did was good, laudable and praiseworthy. The Comelec now has the time to work together to prepare for forthcoming activities and fulfill its constitutional mandate,” said Sarmiento over Catholic Church-run Radio Veritas.
The PPCRV chairperson was referring to the fact that in August, the Comelec’s six commissioners had asked Bautista to resign or go on leave, saying he can no longer effectively lead the poll body.
“The commissioners asked for his resignation or to go on leave, it’s not good for a collegial body like the Comelec, they should be one body. Now they will be one body with the resignation,” he said.
Sarmiento made the remarks after Bautista announced his resignation from the Comelec as its chairperson on Wednesday morning, with an effectivity date of December 31, 2017.
However, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Bautista that same day by overturning the decision of the House committee on justice, voting 137-75-2.
Senate President Koko Pimentel has remarked that Bautista can avoid an impeachment trial if he resigns effective immediately.
Bautista stressed that he will stand pat on his decision to tender his resignation which will take effect on December 31 to allow for a smooth and orderly transition.
This is also to allow President Rodrigo Duterte to choose a replacement to lead the Comelec.
Bautista has been troubled by scandal in the past few months following a feud with his wife, Patricia, which ultimately led to the filing of an impeachment complaint against him.
For his part, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal urged lawmakers to show “compassionate justice” for Bautista, who he said has suffered a lot in the eyes of the public because of his spat with his wife.
“He still deserves a compassionate judgment from our lawmakers and from all of us. For ‘justice without compassion is no justice at all,’” Macalintal said in a statement.
He maintained that the poll chief needs compassion “for the apparent humiliation and embarrassment he and his children underwent during those times when his personal and private life was publicly exposed.”
The poll lawyer pointed out that an impeachment will be “moot and academic as it is very obvious that it will not be terminated on or before December 31,” which is the effectivity date of Bautista’s resignation.
This is because Congress will adjourn from October 14 to November 12 and will resume its session from November 13 to December 15.
It will adjourn again from December 16 to January 14, 2018, leaving 17 session days to act on the impeachment case.
“Clearly, Congress has no sufficient time to finish Bautista’s impeachment till his resignation takes effect on December 31,” Macalintal explained.
The election lawyer cited Bautista’s sincere efforts to protect the integrity of Philippine elections, particularly his handling of the 2016 national and local elections.
Macalintal also backed the poll chief’s reasons for not resigning effective immediately, which is to give the President enough time to look for a replacement.
“(This) shows his deep concern for the welfare of the Comelec. For that alone, Bautista still deserves compassion rather than an outright condemnation,” he added.
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