A former lawmaker and a lawyer on Wednesday filed an impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista over various allegations, including amassing ill-gotten.
The complaint was filed before the House of Representatives by former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, and was endorsed by Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque, Cebu Representative Gwen Garcia and Cavite Representative Abraham Tolentino.
In their complaint, Paras and Topacio cited five grounds for impeachment against Bautista.
One is that Bautista betrayed public trust for neglecting his duties and responsibilities as Comelec chief in failing to adopt serious safeguards as mandated under RA 10173, or the Data Privacy Act of 2012, that could have prevented the data breach or hacking of the Comelec website back in March 2016.
Bautista, according to the complainants, also betrayed public trust for neglecting his duties and responsibilities as head of agency when he failed to promptly act on the hacking of the Comelec website as well as declined to assume direct control and supervision of the task force created after the incident.
The complainants also said Bautista betrayed public trust by obstructing justice in saying that, pending investigation, the script tweak of the transparency server during the 2016 elections was "merely cosmetic" which, in effect, "an exoneration of those responsible for it."
Bautista also allegedly betrayed public trust when he failed to properly disclose his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth to the public, as alleged by his estranged wife Patricia.
Lastly, the complainants said Bautista, by his own admission, had received referral fees from Comelec's technology provider Smartmatic through the Divina Law Office.
Tolentino said he endorsed the complaint to allow Bautista to "clear his name."
Garcia, for her part, said she wanted to know the truth about the alleged controversies in the 2016 elections.
"I think this is the right time now to see and to check on the veracity as well as the credibility of the automated voting system as evidenced by the very, very controversial happenings," she said.
Roque had earlier filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into Bautista's alleged ill-gotten wealth.
The Comelec chief has repeatedly denied allegations that he has unexplained wealth. The accusation, however, has already prompted him to think about quitting his post.
Topacio: We are confident
Hours before the filing, Topacio expressed confidence the impeachment complaint will prosper.
"Kung confidence [ang pag-uusapan], 100 percent kami syempre. Otherwise, we would not have filed and we will fight for it 101 percent," he said at a media forum in Manila.
Topacio said they are not interested in filing criminal charges against Bautista should the latter lose his immunity from suit through impeachment.
"I'm not after Chairman [Bautista] personally. We just want to preserve the institution of the Commission on Elections," he said.
Asked about the resignation scenario, Topacio said: "We would have achieved our purpose because the end goal of impeaching someone is to have him removed from office."
"If he will remove himself from office, then maraming salamat po," he said. —with Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News