THE House committee on justice dismissed the impeachment case against Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista due to insufficiency in form.
About 26 members of the committee voted against the complaint after they found the form defective. Only two said it is sufficient in form.
Once a complaint failed to pass the test in form, the question of sufficiency in substance will no longer be discussed.
According to the committee, the complainants, former Representative Jacinto Paras and Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, used a verification form used for complaints endorsed by 1/3 of the entire House of Representatives.
Before the voting on the sufficiency in form, the complainants together with the endorsers – Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque, Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia and Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino -- tried to amend the verification by submitting a substitute verification.
The substitute verification tried to correct the flawed complaint by stating that the complainants have personal knowledge of the allegations and that the accusations are based on authentic documents.
In objecting to the motion of Roque to accept the substitute verification form, the solons repeatedly pointed out that the plenary had earlier decided during the impeachment complaint of Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano against President Rodrigo Duterte that it would be the last time the committee on justice would allow “liberality” for errors in form.
Since the complaint was deemed initiated after it was referred in plenary on September 7, it cannot be amended anymore.
Likewise, based on the Rules on Impeachment Proceedings of the House, no impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a year from the time it was deemed initiated.
On the other hand, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Fariñas both argued that the committee on justice has no jurisdiction over the substitute verification because it was addressed to the House of Representatives and not to the committee alone.
Lagman noted that the substitute verification had no legal bases in the House rules on impeachment.
“There is no specific rule granting any party the right to amend the verification or the complaint. It is flawed to take the position that just because the pleading or amendment is not prohibited, then it must be allowed,” Lagman stressed.
Only Paras was present during the hearing while Topacio did not watch the proceeding.
The two accused Bautista of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust when he failed to truthfully, accurately or completely disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN); when he neglected his duties and responsibilities, particularly in collecting and further processing of personal data, which led to the unnecessary exposure of personal and sensitive information of millions of Filipinos; when he cleared Smartmatic and Comelec IT specialists of any wrongdoing overthe so-called script tweak during consolidation and canvassing of results in the May 2016 elections.
For Patricia Bautista, the battle is not yet over.
Patricia heard and saw how lawmakers dismissed the complaint filed against her husband for insufficiency in form.
In an interview, Patricia said she is not affected by the ruling of the committee on justice.
“I would just like to say that we remain undeterred, this is just the start, we believe in the system and in the goodness of the people and in their good sense, so at the end of the day we trust in what will be and this is a bump and go,” Patricia said.
Patricia said they will not wait for another year to make another move against her husband in another venue.