MANILA – Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista on Tuesday refuted one by one the new allegations hurled against him by estranged wife Patricia Paz-Bautista, who had earlier claimed he amassed at least P1 billion in unexplained wealth.
First, he denied receiving any commission from Comelec’s technology supplier Smartmatic, or commissions paid by a law firm as referral fee for handling Smartmatic as client.
Bautista admitted having received in the past referral fees from he Divina Law firm, whose main partner is a close friend. However, he stressed, he never got any referral fee pertaining to any subject that respresents a conflict of interest.
“As I said, there were referral fees given to me in respect to private companies but nothing to do with Comelec. Basta may [When there’s a] conflict of interest wala ako kinukuha [I don’t get anything],” said the chairman, who earlier said he was ready to face investigations in any forum, even an impeachment case.
Bautista confirmed he had met some Smartmatic officials when he was in the United States to observe the elections. But, he stressed, these are not secret meetings, contrary to allegations of Mrs. Bautista.
He said other people “were present . . . in that meeting. Nothing secret . . . .in that meeting. This meeting happened six months after the elections.”
Bautista also denied having ghost employees when he was chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG). He said hie wife knew one of the two PCGG consultants whom she had described as a ghost employee.
Meanwhile, he said, he never made any withdrawal that reached P500,000 when he was PCGG chairman. “Not true. Daily? 500,000 daily? what are you talking about?”
The beleaguered Comelec chief insisted money was the root of al his estranged wife’s supposed expose. He earlier claimed she was demanding P620 million from him to settle their separation, but he had told her he did not have that kind of money.
Even when they were still together, he said, his wife could not handle money well. He described himself as a “thrifty” man, adding this was why he was the one handling the family finances. In contrast, his wife allegedly was unable to manage her finances, to the extent that a few years ago “I had to bail her [out] of a credit card bill of P3.2 million.”
“Whenever we had our primary issue in our marriage, it is money. Ako medyo kuripot. Gusto ko rin turuan ang mga anak ko na they to live within their means.”
The chairman conceded that as they do not have a pre-nuptial agreement, Patricia has a right to half of his wealth.
This is why, he said, he would have agreed to a P90-million settlement between them — or half of the P176 million he declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth.
Unfortunately, he said, the sum of his wealth quadrupled, in Patricia’s estimate, after she obtained financial documents taken without his consent from his condo unit in November 2016.
From P620 million, Mrs. Bautista at one point was even asking him for P720 million. He scoffed at the irony of her claiming in interviews that she denounced him for patriotic reasons because she could not stand the thought of a husband stealing while in office, and yet she demands to have half of an allegedly illegal stash.
“Ito ang [This is the] irony: [this] 620 million does mean that I have P1.3 billion. Part of it daw is illegal and yet she wants half? [That’s the] logic na di ko maintindihan [that I can’t understand].”
Accounts of family members
Meanwhile, Bautista admitted there are assets where he is in joint account but which he did not declare in his SALN. He explained he did not do so because these are owned by his siblings and parents.
In fact, he said, one of his siblings is returning to the Philippines from the US to explain his co-investment with Chairman bautista.
“There are joint accounts where part of [the assets] is mine and I had declared it. But there are also assets in my joint account that do not belong to me. i am just a signatory. I had siblings in the US co-investing with me.”
Asked why he did not declare the latter in his SALN, Bautista explained, “Hindi kasi akin ‘yun. Alam ko ang akin. Alam ko ang kanila. Meron kaming accounting [Because they are not mine. I know what belongs to me, and to them. We have an accounting].”
He estimates that half of what his estranged wife presented to media are fake.
He threw this challenge: if the other camp can prove he owns P1 billion, he will give this to them.
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