Roque: Bautista impeachment complaint will pass House panel scrutiny
MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker who endorsed a valid impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista expressed confidence that the complaint would pass the scrutiny of the House committee on justice.
Kabayan Representative Harry Roque made the statement in a press briefing on Tuesday, September 19, a day before the House panel votes on whether the complaint against Bautista is sufficient in both form and substance.
Roque and two other legislators – Cebu 3rd District Representative Gwen Garcia and Cavite 7th District Representative Abraham Tolentino – had endorsed the complaint filed by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and former Negros Occidental Representative Jacinto Paras, members of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
Topacio and Paras want Bautista out of office for alleged betrayal of public trust for his alleged failure to respond properly to the 2016 hacking incident in the Comelec. He also allegedly failed to be truthful in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
During the news conference, Roque addressed observations that the VACC complaint against Bautista "may be fatally flawed because of the alleged failure in the sufficiency in form."
"I want to remind everyone verification used by VACC is the exact same verification used by Representative Gary Alejano in the impeachment complaint against President Duterte that was found to be sufficient in form… I see no reason why we should deviate," Roque said.
He added, however, that if such were to be the case, House rules allow problems in sufficiency in form to be "rectified at any time."
"There is no bar in admitting substitute verification," the lawmaker said.
He said the VACC had filed a "substitute verification of the complaint" against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno a day after the House committee on justice deemed the group's complaint against Sereno as not sufficient in form.
Last week, the committee approved one complaint and rejected another impeachment complaint against Sereno. The second complaint, filed by officials of two pro-Duterte groups, was found to be insufficient in form because it followed the wrong impeachment complaint format.
During that hearing, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas joked that Roque, a member of the justice committee, voted in favor of declaring the second complaint sufficient in substance since it was similar to the Bautista complaint, which Roque had endorsed.
Roque reiterated on Tuesday that the complaint may still be returned to the complainant for revisions. “It is established in the House rules itself that insufficiency in form may be rectified even if an impeachment complaint had already been initiated,” he said.
Bautista's troubles began in early August 2017, when his wife, Patricia, accused him of of allegedly failing to declare his properties truthfully in his SALN.
He and his wife are estranged.
Roque said that although the issue “started as an issue of domestic squabble” it is of “transcendental importance.”
Bautista’s term expires in 2022. – Rappler.com