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Aguirre: Bautista immune from suits

Ni: Jeffrey Damicog

Even after having ordered an investigation over allegations of corruption, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II admitted that no charges can be filed against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista.

Aguirre explained constitutional officials like Bautista are immune from suit while still in office.

“He’s still an impeachable officer and immune from suit,” the secretary said.

“The only suit that can be filed against him is an impeachment suit,” Aguirre pointed out.

Because of this, Aguirre said a case can be filed against Bautista once he has been impeached or he resigned himself from his post.

Aguirre has already ordered the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to investigate the activities of Bautista when he was still PCGG chairman.

In his Department Order No. 551, Aguirre instructed the PCGG to “closely coordinate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Commission on Audit (CoA), and the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the conduct of its investigation and is further authorized to prosecute cases, when necessary, in accordance with its powers under Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A above stated and other relevant laws.”

Among those he wanted checked, Aguirre asked the PCGG to look into the report of the CoA on “more than One Hundred Million Pesos Unliquidated Cash Disbursements obtained from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) Dollar Escrow Accounts of the PCGG during the time of Chairman J. Andres Bautista as PCGG Chairman and thereafter.”

He also wanted the PCGG to look into the reported abuse of resources of PCGG sequestered and surrendered entities committed during the chairmanship of Andres “including but not limited to the millions of pesos worth of gift checks and gift cards received by J. Andres Bautista and his staff.