3 solons endorse impeach rap vs Comelec chief

MANILA — A former congressman and a lawyer on Wednesday filed an impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista before the Office of the Secretary General at the House of Representatives.

Former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio sought the removal of Bautista from his post on the grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust amid hidden-wealth allegations.

“Bautista culpably violated the Constitution and/or betrayed the public trust,” Topacio and Paras said in their impeachment complaint.

The verified impeachment complaint secured the endorsement of Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque, and Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino.

A complaint filed by any citizen should get the endorsement of a sitting congressman before it will be referred to the House committee on justice for hearing.

The complainants said Bautista betrayed public trust for failing to adopt safeguards under the Data Privacy Act (Republic Act No. 10173) that could have prevented the data breach or hacking of the Comelec website that occurred in March last year.

Bautista also failed in his duties and responsibilities as poll chief when he failed to promptly act on the hacking of the Comelec website, as well as declined to assume direct control and supervision of the task force created after the incident, the complainants noted.

Furthermore, the complainants said Bautista betrayed public trust by obstructing justice when he cleared Smartmatic and Comelec IT specialists of any wrongdoing for the so-called script tweak during the consolidation/canvassing of results in the May 2016 elections.

The complainants also alleged that Bautista failed to properly disclose to the public his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) and the reported receipt of referral fees from the Smartmatic, the largest technology provider of the Comelec, through the Divina Law Office. PNA-northboundasia.com