Busted: Bautista took a 1-day privilege leave for a family trip to Japan, not fleeing PH 

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Andres Bautista just can’t catch a break after receiving flak for leaving for Japan on Thursday, June 23.

Duterte supporters, who have always been vocal about their dislike of Bautista, were quick to jump to conclusions that he is probably leaving because “CHAINS are coming,” implying the possibility of prison for the Comelec chair.

ComElec Chairman Bautista

These taunts were inspired by news reports of Bautista going AWOL after he left for Japan last Thursday, June 23, after filing for a one-day privilege leave. Friday was a holiday as it was Manila Day.

According to these reports, Bautista’s fellow commissioners were complaining about him leaving without designating an officer-in-charge of Comelec in his absence, as per Commissioner Lim, and for leaving without a travel authority, as per Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.

Guanzon even asked the Bureau of Immigration (BI) as to why Bautista was allowed to leave the country without asking for the signatures of the other Comelec commissioners, after Lim, who used to sign Bautista’s travel authority, resigned from his post.


But Bautista clarified this issue while he was in Japan.

“I have travel authority issued pursuant to Executive Orders 459 and 477. The Commission on Audit chair and the ombudsman, as head of agency, also issue their own travel authorities,” Bautista said in a text message.

He issued a memorandum to Commission secretary Consuelo Diola on June 21 after assuring her that his trip to Tokyo from June 23 to 26 with his son is “a personal trip that will entail no cost to the Commission.”

Bautista’s memorandum reads:

“I, as head of agency, will be issuing my travel authority pursuant to Section 3 of EO No. 447 series of 1991, which among others, states that ‘the members, officials and employees of aforementioned constitutional bodies shall henceforth submit their requests for permission to travel abroad to the heads of the commissions/office concerned.”

His memorandum also said, “this authority is further confirmed by Section 2 of EO No. 459 series of 2005, which states that ‘all other government officials and employees seeking authority to travel abroad shall seek approval from their respective heads of agency.”

Bautista also defended his action not to appoint a Comelec acting chairman by saying that he was referring to existing memos that appoint a senior commissioner as acting chair if he is not available.

On June 27, GMA’s Sandra Aguinaldo interviewed Bautista about the “failure of leadership” accusations thrown at him by all six Comelec commissioners.

“Unang-una po ako ay hindi kapit tuko sa kahit anumang posisyon pero bakit ako magreresign e wala naman akong kasalanan,” Bautista said.

ComElec Chairman - Andres Bautista

Bautista added that he is ready to respond to the commissioners’ memorandum blaming him for the delayed release of the honoraria for the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) and other election workers. He said that their honoraria have been deposited to Land Bank before the May 9 elections.

As for issues involving a mall’s “demand for charges,” Bautista said that Comelec’s legal department has already said that the poll body can pay the mall and set aside the unused election paraphernalia for next elections.

Bautista deemed the use of the phrase “failure of leadership” ironic, citing the success of the elections, “which most believe was the fastest, most organized and successful elections in Philippine history.”

Since Bautista has said that he is not resigning, he is definitely not fleeing the country, contrary to the accusations of Duterte supporters, as he has to continue fulfilling his responsibilities as Comelec chair.


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