By: Ben R. Rosario and Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
Unless impeached Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista decides to re-schedule his resignation at an earlier date, Congress will not stop preparations for a possible full blown impeachment trial that will start next month.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said no trial will be conducted if the embattled Comelec chief resigns sooner, adding that Bautista is not prevented from stepping down “today, tonight, tomorrow.”
In a radio interview after voting to reject the House Committee on Justice resolution and report recommending the dismissal of the impeachment case, Alvarez pointed out that the accusations against him are grave that a full blown trial has become imperative.
A few hours before the House plenary voting that saw 137 congressmen rejecting the report last Wednesday, Bautista informed Malacañang of his resignation that will take effect on Dec. 31.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III has disclosed that the impeachment court will be ready to hold hearings shortly after next year’s resumption of sessions.
House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said he will recommend to the panel the holding of two committee meetings to better prepare the chamber in finalizing the Articles of Impeachment.
Farinas said the two meetings will also be used in choosing the 11-man prosecution panel that will represent the chamber in the Senate trials.
Alvarez has disclosed that the chamber is currently being swamped with offers from lawyers volunteering to become part of the impeachment team.
Malacañang is keeping its hands off the possible trial of Bautista.
According to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Congress should be the one to decide the fate of Bautista.
“Well, Congress shall decide what to do, you know, with this impeachment in view of his resignation,” Abella said during a Palace press briefing yesterday.
“After his successor is named, we look forward to a smooth transition and preparations for barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections next year, midterm polls, and if possible, Bangsamoro Basic Law and Charter change plebiscites in 2019,” he added.