Gordon on Bautista: I won't call for probe yet

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Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Senator Richard Gordon is treading cautiously in the case of Comelec Chief Andres Bautista.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — Senator Richard Gordon said he won't be too hasty in investigating Commission on Elections (Comelec) chief Andres Bautista.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' News Night Tuesday, Gordon said, "If I start investigating it now, then I am preempting whatever impeachment proceedings there may be and I may be prejudging the case unnecessarily."

This after Senator Tito Sotto filed a resolution that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee should investigate the accusations against Bautista.

Gordon heads the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

Gordon explained the impeachment process, saying once an impeachment complaint is deemed to have grounds, it will be up to senators to determine guilt.

Gordon said, "We will now have to act as judges – no longer as senators, but senator-judges that will rule on whether he is guilty or not."

Some of Gordon's colleagues are pushing for an investigation, saying any result could be used in filing an impeachment complaint against Bautista.

Gordon said, "I much prefer that a citizen or a congressman filed a case against...because in the first place, this is a constitutional official and I'd like to respect constitutional officials as far as I can."

 

Gordon said while he would rather wait "for a while," he would still consult with colleagues "tomorrow" to see what could be done.

When asked about whether he believes the allegations against Bautista could cast doubt on the Comelec and the 2016 elections, Gordon said "anything" could cast doubt and the electoral body "is an office that casts a lot of doubts, not only in this election but since time immemorial."

Gordon added, "I don't worry about that. You have to look at the facts before you...hindi ka pwede mag-speculate [You can't speculate]. You can only focus on the facts before you. "

Gordon said he would study the facts thoroughly before making a decision and would look into results of investigations being done by other concerned government agencies before taking any steps.

RELATED: COMELEC chair accused of unexplained wealth by estranged wife

He added he sees the gravity in the case of Bautista especially since there were documents presented, which will have to be explained.

Gordon said they are limited to these issues regarding Bautista, the issues between him and Patricia, his estranged wife, "can be discussed in a family court."

When asked if Patricia could be testify against Bautista, Gordon clarified that as a general rule spouses are not called on, but there are exceptions, among these when a person batters, abuses, or tries to kill their spouse.

Gordon said the cases of SALNs, unexplained wealth, and corruption are different from domestic cases.

RELATED: COMELEC Chair cries blackmail and extortion by his estranged wife; ready to face probe

Roque: Documents cast doubt on 2016 elections

House Deputy Minority Leader Harry Roque said Bautista's confession that he received "referral fees" from Divina Law may be proof that Bautista violated Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. "When you're a public official you're not supposed to be getting any gift, any consideration from anyone who has any interest in your office," Roque said.

Roque, a lawyer himself, reminded fellow practitioners that they are not supposed to demand or receive referral fees. "Lawyering is not a business. It is a noble profession," he said.

Roque said Bautista could be the second government official to be impeached due to misdeclaration in his SALN, the first being the late Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.

READ: Solon: Bautista's 'receipt of fee for Smartmatic referral' casts doubt on 2016 polls

When asked what Bautista's next move should be, Roque said, "I think the best thing for him, his wife, his children, and the Comelec is for him to resign."

But whether Bautista quits or not, Roque said there is no stopping him from pushing for an investigation on Bautista as soon as possible and within the month of August.

"It's very important because if the allegations are true I don't think a person without integrity should stay one minute longer in a very sensitive post such as the Comelec," he said.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos contributed to this report.