THERE is a big chance that Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista will be spared from impeachment on a technicality.
This is because the complainants and endorsers of his impeachment case used the wrong verification form that is not compliant with the rules of impeachment.
The House committee on justice led by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali scheduled a hearing Tuesday next week to discuss the Baustista case.
But at yesterday’s hearing on the impeachment case against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, the complaint filed by Dante Jimenez and Eligio Mallari was dismissed due to insufficiency in form.
Jimenez and Mallari used a verification form used for complainants endorsed by 1/3 of the members of the House and no less than Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas objected to it because the form is not for complaints filed by private individuals.
Fariñas, chairman of the committee on rules, then said the Bautista complaint also used the wrong verification form to which it is more likely to be dismissed.
One of the endorsers, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque blamed the House of Representatives for having a complicated rules of impeachment that should not be insisted to the complainants, and asked the leadership to amend it.
At this point, Fariñas said “I was the one who wrote the rules . The complainant should comply. I know where you’re coming from. The complainants of the case you endorsed also copied the form, applicable for a complaint endorsed by 1/3 of the members of the House.”
In a separate interview, Roque said they will appeal to the committee on justice to allow them to change only the verification form.
“We will study it very carefully on how we can amend the verification form, and if we will be allowed by the committee,” Umali said, adding that the complaint was already referred to the justice committee.
Last month, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio and former Rep. Jing Paras filed an impeachment case against Bautista for alleged ill-gotten wealth worth more than a billion pesos.
Endorsed by three solons -- Roque, Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia and Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino – the complaint accused Bautista of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
It was Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia who revealed his wealth that is allegedly not included in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN).