Family feud

One of the worst things that can happen to a public official is to have his or her private marital problems exposed in public for everyone to know. This is exactly what is happening with the marital woes of the estranged Bautista couple.

It has only been a few days but it looks like this soap opera will get a lot messier. This is unfortunate for Commission on Elections Chairman Andy Bautista. His position is supposed to be one that does not only demand the highest integrity and honesty but also a moral character that is second to none.

The Comelec is the guardian of our democratic system of government. A corrupt Comelec will just make a mockery of our electoral process which is the very foundation of our cherished democratic government.

Yet, that is precisely what Andy Bautista is being accused of and the accusation is coming from his estranged wife, no less. Patricia Paz Bautista is saying that based on some documents she found in their conjugal dwelling, it appears that Andy Bautista is worth the astonishing amount of more than a billion pesos instead of the P157 million that he reported in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. As proof, she offered several documents like bank accounts both here and abroad together with other documents attesting to ownership of several real estate properties both here and San Francisco in the United States.

This alleged property in the US could easily be accessed to determine whether Andy Bautista does own a condominium unit in San Francisco.

Andy Bautista, for his part, has been making the rounds of the networks and has also made himself available to the print media to accuse his estranged wife of blackmail to the tune of P620 million.

I do not know about this blackmail thing but my very limited knowledge of the law on property is that if husband and wife separate, one is entitled to half of the conjugal property. And since in Patricia’s calculation, the wealth accumulated by Andy Bautista (whether legally or not) is about P1.2 billion, she is only asking for half of Andy’s wealth which is perfectly within the bounds of law.

Chairman Bautista is also accused of having P372 million deposited with the Luzon Development Bank. It appears that Bautista has been making daily deposits of amounts of less than P500,000 obviously to circumvent AMLAC regulations which require that any bank transaction of P500,000 or more must be reported to the central bank. The daily deposits clearly fall under the category of suspicious transactions as defined in the Anti-Money Laundering Law and should have been reported by Bautista’s bank. It did not.

There are also two offshore accounts in US and Hong Kong dollars.

Bautista has dismissed these accounts as small. He said that having worked as a lawyer in Hong Kong, he is authorized to hold offshore bank accounts. But Andy Bautista seems to forget that the issue here is his failure to include this in his SALN. No matter how small the amount, if Bautista failed to include it in his SALN, it is a violation of the law which was the reason for the removal of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona.

As the saying goes, where there is smoke there is fire. For Bautista, he now has to prove that those bank accounts are just a figment of his wife’s imagination and are not true. He also claimed in one of his interviews that part of the funds deposited belong to his siblings living in the United States which is a common defense tactic. But why did he not put that on record with the bank that the money is a joint account instead of depositing the huge amount of money in his name?

The National Bureau of Investigation is now investigating the wife’s allegations and if both Houses of Congress can make up their minds, there might also be a Congressional investigation.

Both developments could not be good for Andy Bautista and if I were him, he should engage the services of a lawyer instead of lawyering for himself as he is doing. His counter accusations of blackmail and marital infidelity is only pouring more gasoline into the fire.

Could the accusation of unexplained wealth be true? If true, how and when did Bautista acquire his staggering wealth? As chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government or as chairman of Comelec? Maybe he earned his riches before entering government service as a brilliant lawyer. For now, it is hard to say. But let me relate an incident related to me by a very reliable source from inside the Comelec. It seems that several months ago, the Comelec was able to uncover several election irregularities that occurred during the 2016 elections. This involved the electronic manipulation of the election results in several cities and provinces. The way this was found out according to this source was that the Comelec opened the server to determine the actual winners in these cities and provinces and found out that those proclaimed were not the true winners. A decision was then made by the Comelec en banc to oust those who cheated and install the true winners.

Somewhere along the line, however, the installation of these officials was delayed so many times by Chairman Bautista until everything was set aside and forgotten. Reason?

According to my source, one of these officials paid a total of P65 million to Chairman Bautista which he apparently shared with a ranking government official who was recently dismissed by the president for corruption.

Folks, that is just from one official.

Topics: Florencio Fianza , Family feud , Commission on Elections , Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista , Patricia Paz Bautista , Statement of Assets , Liabilities and Net Worth , SALN
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