Andy won’t quit, solons not keen to probe case
COMMISSION on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista said Tuesday he will not resign despite an accusation by his estranged wife that he had amassed close to P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth.
In a press briefing, Bautista said his wife Patricia’s allegations were all lies and said he would not give in to her demands.
Bautista also said his wife had allowed herself to be used “to serve the political agenda of some opportunistic people.”
“Her allegations are all lies, and I categorically deny all of them,” Bautista said.
The poll chief accused his wife of stealing cash, gift certificates, ATM cards and other documents in November 2016, all of which belonged to him and his family.
Even though his wife consulted a lawyer before taking the items, this was a blatant violation of his right to privacy, he said.
Bautista said his wife has tried to extort money from him, and when she realized he wasn’t going to give in, she filed an affidavit “based on fabrications and lies.”
The Bautistas have been married since 2000, but have been estranged for four years.
Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said he had his misgivings about opening an investigation on the case because this might become redundant if an impeachment complaint is filed against Bautista.
“So it is the House that should be investigating Bautista, and if they decide to impeach him, impeach him,” Gordon added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier expressed the same reservations because if the House files an impeachment complaint, the senators must sit as judges.
But Senator Francis Escudero said he believed the Blue Ribbon committee can investigate Bautista in the same way it did with then Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“The Senate investigated Binay.... What if after investigation by the Senate, he [Bautista] is able to prove that he did no wrongdoing? Or no impeachment case is filed?” Escudero said.
But the House also seemed to shy away from investigating the Bautista case.
House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said calls for a congressional probe were pointless because the proper venue to investigate Bautista is through impeachment.
“The House probes or investigates impeachable officials through the process of impeachment. Any other proceeding would result in redundancy, as any finding thereof would only be recommendatory,” Fariñas said.
“If it finds sufficient ground to proceed against such an official, it would resort to impeachment proceedings,” he added.
A women’s party-list lawmaker said Tuesday that the marital problems of the Bautistas were less important than the Comelec’s integrity, given the revelations of his unexplained wealth.
“It is the unexplained wealth and not the status of his marital relations that Comelec Commissioner Andres Bautista should be explaining and made accountable for by the public,” Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said.
“We are increasingly becoming wary that this issue will be reduced to a spat between spouses when it is in fact the integrity of the country’s poll body that is in fact at stake,” she added.
Bautista declared a net of P176.3 million in his statement of assets and liabilities despite reportedly having several undeclared properties and bank accounts estimated to reach almost P1 billion.