House Justice panel chair: Impeachment complaint vs. Comelec chair 'faulty', may be junked

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19) — The House Justice Committee chair believes the impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) chief Andy Bautista is faulty, and may be junked.

"It's faulty," House Justice panel Chair Rey Umali told reporters. "Because it is not based either on personal knowledge or on authentic documents. It is based on personal belief, and that is not what is required under the rules."

The House panel is set to convene on the complaint tomorrow to determine the sufficiency of its form and substance.

Umali added that those who filed the complaint, Atty. Manuelito Luna and Atty. Ferdinand Topacio of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, have no personal knowledge of the allegations hurled against the Comelec chair.

Read more: Lawyers cite 'discrepancy' in Comelec Chair's SALN in impeachment complaint

"Kunwari mga [For instance] bank accounts. How can they have personal knowledge of that? With respect to the other allegations, which cannot be of their personal knowledge, kasi hindi naman sila involved doon [they weren't involved], they were not there. They were not party to those incidents so they could not have had the personal knowledge thereof," Umali said.

But KABAYAN Party-list Rep. Harry Roque, one of the complaint's endorsers, said authentic documents such as the affidavit of Patricia Bautista will help substantiate it.

Patricia, the estranged wife of Andres Bautista, accused her husband of amassing hundreds of millions in pesos in unexplained wealth during his term as Comelec chair. She turned over documents proving her claims to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in August.

The Comelec chair consistently denied the allegations made by his wife, even accusing her of stealing cash, ATM cards and other documents in November 2016.

"I stand by the statements contained in my sworn affidavit to the NBI regarding Chairman Bautista. His case is now in the hands of the Justice Committee in Congress," Patricia said in a press conference Tuesday.

Patricia's affidavit is appended to the complaint, Roque said.

"Being a sworn statement, it is a public document. And the affiant will have personal knowledge if not the complainant. And of course, the personal knowledge as to documents, she has all the originals," Roque added.

Patricia will be present at the panel hearing tomorrow.

"My role as a private citizen is to simply speak the truth and show the evidence at hand," Patricia said.

House Majority Leader Rudy Farinas, however, earlier said Patricia's statements might not hold water because she is not the complainant.

Patricia's legal counsel, Atty. Lorna Kapunan, said they are hoping for the House Justice Committee to fully address the complaint.