MANILA – The mega-battle between Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista and his wife could lead to an impeachment trial, and cast doubt on closely contested races in the 2016 elections, Sen. Grace Poe said Monday.
The senator stressed outright that she had “nothing personal” against Bautista. She also still thinks she was right in quickly conceding after the 2016 polls to then-rival Rodrigo Duterte, whose election victory, she said, is obviously solid.
To Poe, the revelations made by Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia — that he allegedly amassed ill-gotten wealth as poll body chief — cannot be simply dismissed as a marital spat.
Serious allegations were made, she said – acts that are tantamount to plunder, if true – and even the Senate could conduct its own investigation even before any party moves to file an impeachment complaint against Bautista.
Under the Constitution, the Comelec chairman may only be ousted by an impeachment in a trial conducted at the Senate.
Poe said she supported the resolution filed by Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III to investigate the issues, as a potential plunder case is involved.
Poe also believes the revelation could impact or cast doubt on results of some of the closely contested races in the May 9, 2016 polls.
The huge sums found in the passbook cited by Bautista’s wife cannot be ignored, and must be taken alongside such basic details as Bautista’s salary as Comelec chairman, according to her.
Poe said the sheer pattern in the sums deposited, as reflected in the passbook — always below P500,000 or the threshold set by law before a transaction triggers an alarm –already indicates an apparent intent to go under the radar of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Poe said she was not questioning the credibility of the bank involved (Luzon Development Bank), but found it strange that someone with such huge sums of money would place an account with a relatively small bank when the instinct would have been to go with a bigger, more established bank.
In case an impeachment case were indeed filed eventually against Bautista and the senators must sit as judges, this should not prevent the Senate from doing its own inquiry now in order to ferret out important information, in Poe’s view.
She recalled that during the time of President Joseph Estrada, Senate hearings were held on the allegations of graft against him, even before an impeachment case was filed in the House of Representatives.