‘IT’S A CASE OF EXTORTION’ | Listen: Comelec chief denies wife’s claim he has close to P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth

August 7, 2017 - 7:47 AM
File photo of Comelec chief Andres Bautista from Philstar

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista denied his wife’s claim that he has nearly P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth that he could have allegedly amassed from questionable transactions while in public office.

Matagal na po kaming may problemang mag-asawa na ngayon ay nababahiran ng pultika. Ito ay isang kaso ng pangingikil at panggigipit [My wife and I have a problem that has been going on for a long time that is now tainted with politics. This is a case of extortion and pressure],” Bautista said in a recorded statement aired by radio dzMM Monday.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) earlier reported that Patricia Paz Bautista met with President Rodrigo Duterte and afterwards submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) an affidavit stating that “certain information and documents that would show that Andy (Bautista’s nickname) might have had, or currently has, misdealing and corrupt practices while in government service.”

“I understand that since Andy holds the position of Comelec chair, he is liable to be impeached should there exist valid and sufficient grounds to hold him in trial for an impeachable offense under Sec. 2, Article XI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution,” Patricia said her sworn statement.

Patricia claimed that her husband, who was appointed as Comelec chairman in May 2015 by then President Benigno Aquino III, had money in banks, condominiums, and interest and shares in companies established overseas that the poll chief allegedly did not declare in his 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) with a total estimated value of almost P1 billion.

Among the cash, properties, and firms that the Comelec chief did not declare in his SALN, according to his wife are:

• 35 Luzon Development Bank (LDB) passbooks with a total balance of P329,220,962
• A foreign currency account with Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) with $12,778.30, or P640,959.53 (at P50.16 [as of Aug. 4] to $1.00)
• An RCBC peso account with P257,931.60
• A Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) account with HK$948,358.97 or P6.10 million (at P6.43 to HK$1.00)
• A condominium unit in One Bonifacio High Street at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City
• A condo unit in The District in San Francisco, California
• Bauman Enterprises Ltd., a company established in the British Virgin Islands on Sept. 29, 2010; a trustee company that Bautista set up with Bank of Singapore
• Mantova International Ltd., established in Brunei Darussalam on April 26, 2011
• Mega Achieve Inc., established in Anguilla, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, on July 15, 2014

In her affidavit, Patricia said that, “I previously confronted Andy about these companies and he bluntly denied that he was involved in any way with any of them.”

“However, it is highly suspicious why he would have copies of pertinent documents relative to such companies when he claims that he does not have any involvement with any of those,” she added.

Patricia’s meeting with Duterte

Patricia said she had sought an audience with Duterte because of “fear.”

According to the PDI report, the Comelec chief’s wife filed a case of violence against women and children with the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office, accusing her husband of “emotional and economic sabotage” against her and their children.

She said she was able to arrange a meeting with the President last July 26 at the Music Room in Malacañang through friends and that it was the chief executive who endorsed her case to NBI chief Dante Gierran.

Bautista says wife asking P620-million settlement

In a separate report Monday, the PDI quoted the Comelec chief as saying that Patricia “wants to amicably settle; she wants a huge amount, which I don’t have.”

Bautista, who was the chair of the Presidential Commission on Good Government before he became Comelec chief, claimed that his wife was asking a P620-million settlement from him but he refused giving the money to her because he could not afford it.

The poll chief, who declared a P176.3 million total net worth in 2016, also denied that he had 35 LDB passbooks.

“I don’t think it was that many. These monies don’t all belong to me. Most of them belong to my parents, to my brother and sister,” he told the PDI in an interview in the presence of his parents-in-law, the Vasquez couple, in the latter’s residence in Makati City.

Regarding his foreign currency and peso accounts with the RCBC, Bautista said “it’s possible” that he had those accounts and “it’s all in the SALN.”

But he denied having an account with HSBC. “If she (Patricia) can produce it, it’s all hers.”

On his alleged real properties, Bautista said he had declared in his SALN the condo unit in One Bonifacio but the other one in California belonged to his sister, Susan Afan.

On his alleged investments overseas, Bautista told PDI that he only had one offshore account, which was in Singapore.

On his alleged investments in Mantova International, he told the PDI that he was “trying to fix a loan, but it never pushed through.”

“I don’t own any of these things. These are all fictitious; they don’t belong to me,” Bautista further told the PDI.