Delayed resignation forced impeach vote — Umali

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — An immediate resignation by Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista could have avoided an impeachment vote, a ranking lawmaker said Wednesday.

Committee Chairman Rey Umali told CNN Philippines things would have been different if Bautista resigned immediately instead of by the end of the year as he announced Wednesday morning.

"The only purpose of impeachment is to remove. And... had he resigned effective immediately, that would have ended this issue on impeachment," Umali said.

 

Voting 137-75, the House of Representatives on Wednesday overturned its Justice Committee's recommendation that dismissed the complaint against Bautista filed by former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.

 

RELATED: House panel junks impeachment complaint vs. Comelec chair

Umali said he wasn't surprised a vote was forthcoming as he heard Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez would reject the committee report.

"I suspected it when I heard that the Speaker will vote in the negative so I was already expecting that," he said.

Umali said the vote was "democracy at work."

Umali said he would call for a committee hearing next week to work on the Articles of Impeachment which will be the list of charges to be presented at the Senate Impeachment Court, identify the panel of prosecutors, and "talk about how to strengthen evidence."

"I cannot come to the Senate Impeachment Court with a weak case," he added.

Impeachment is a constitutional and political process that strips certain elected officials of their immunity so that they can face trial before an impeachment court.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto aid the Senate shall specify the date and time to consider the Articles of Impeachment.

Bautista: I will abide by the Constitution

Bautista responded to the House vote soon after the results came out.

"It is unfortunate that the decision of the House Committee on Justice, which was voted upon by a vote of 26-2, to dismiss the impeachment complaint against me was overturned this afternoon by the House of Representatives," he said in his social media account.

"I acknowledge that all members of the House of Representatives are entitled to their own opinion. While it may be an unnecessary move since I already tendered my resignation to the President today effective end of the year to ensure a smooth transition, I will abide by the Constitution and the relevant rules regarding the impeachment process," Bautista added.

KABAYAN Party-list Rep. Harry Roque sent out a tweet Wednesday, saying, "We have more than 100 no votes. Andy Bautista is impeached!"

 

Roque tweeted after the voting.

After a confirmation of the votes, the result was 137 to reject the report, 75 to accept, and two abstentions. The House needs a one-third vote of its members to impeach an official – in this case, 98.

The Justice Committee was directed to prepare the Articles of Impeachment for submission to the Senate, which will act as the Impeachment Court.

On Wednesday morning, Bautista said in his social media accounts he would resign by the end of the year.

READ: Comelec Chief Andy Bautista to resign

"It is with deep sadness that I am informing you about my decision to resign as the Chair of the Commission on Elections by the end of the year," Bautista said in his letter addressed to Comelec employees.

Reversal of decision

The Justice Committee rejected the complaint as it was "insufficient in form."

"The result of the voting in insufficiency in form of this complaint renders this complaint dismissed," House Justice Committee Chairman Reynaldo Umali had said.

After the committee decision, Bautista said he felt "vindicated."

READ: Bautista feels vindicated, wife's camp not giving up on impeachment

CNN Philippines Digital Producer Eimor Santos and Senior Correspondent Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.