COMMISSION on Elections Chairman Juan Andres “Andy” Bautista on Wednesday announced he had filed formal complaints against his estranged wife for grave coercion, qualified theft and robbery, and extortion.
Taking his turn on live television, Bautista broke down and said his wife Patricia Paz’s allegations of hidden wealth and illegal commissions were “unfair” to their four children.
He claimed there was a demolition job against him, maintaining that his wife’s allegation of nearly P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth were totally false.
“There is an orchestrated campaign against me, perhaps the Comelec, the  elections,” Bautista said in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel’s “Headstart,” where he answered the accusations of his wife Patricia.
Bautista said he had done nothing wrong and would clear his name and “all will be explained in due time where these were [accusations]were coming from.”
‘The universe will take care of them’
Bautista said he had long been advised by his lawyers to file the charges but did not do so for the sake of his children.
He admitted that what was happening was one of the most painful chapters in his life, saying that he had not been dealt with fairly and forthrightly.
Holding back tears, Bautista said he was very concerned with his four young children who have since stopped going to school because of his rift with his wife.
Bautista said that when he brought up his concern about the children, Patricia answered: “The universe will take care of them.”
Bautista’s wife possesses records of bank deposits, checks, ATM cards, financial records and other documents to support her claim that the Comelec chief did not truthfully declare his 2016 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth or SALN.
Bautista said the documents were stolen by his wife 10 months ago and had not been returned to him, adding that many of the bank accounts were closed or non-existent, while others belonged to his brother, sister and parents.
Mother-in-law backs Bautista
The Comelec chief’s mother-in-law on Wednesday issued a statement questioning her daughter’s actions.
“I am greatly saddened by recent events involving my daughter [Patricia] and her husband Andy. As a mother, you always wish happiness for your daughter and her family. Sadly, fairytales sometimes do not always come true,” said Pacita “Baby” Cruz-Vazquez.
“It also pains me to see my grandchildren go through this trial that was not of their doing nor of their fault,” she said.
“I have known Andy for many years, and I know him to be an honest, upright, God-fearing husband and father.
He is a man of unquestioned integrity, the kind of man any mother would entrust her daughter to. This is why I cannot believe the accusations against him, even if they are from my own daughter,” she added.
“I continue to pray for Andy and his family that they stand fast and find the strength to face this storm. I also pray for my daughter that she realizes what are truly important in life.”
Sotto eyes SALN probe
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said that the Senate would investigate Bautista’s SALN.
“Either Monday or Tuesday,” Sotto told The Manila Times at a forum in Manila on Wednesday.
Sotto said he would talk to Sen. Richard Gordon later in the day on whether the blue ribbon committee head would take cognizance of the issue. If not, he said he would ask Sen. Francis Escudero, head of the committee on banking and finance, to spearhead the inquiry.
“We need to amend the SALN [law]because a government employee can just make a correction if there is some error found later,” he said.
“This is not just a family problem or couple’s quarrel. It is a national problem, a very serious allegation of circumventing Republic Act (RA) 7613 or Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees which requires all government employees to submit their truthful SALN,” he added.
Sotto said Patricia would be invited to the hearing as a resource person, not as a witness against her estranged husband like in court proceedings.
Asked if the hearing would turn political, the senator from Quezon City said “it was unavoidable” but assured the public “he will not dwell on it.”
“The more there is a need for this hearing because we want to know what really happened in the 2016 elections if there were irregularities. Now if they don’t want to tackle this issue, then we exclude it,” he said.
“What we want to discover is how RA 7613 is being implemented. We can introduce amendments to avoid abuse of it,” he added.
In December 2011, Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached for a misdeclared SALN. In May 2012, he was convicted by the Senate impeachment court and booted out of office.
with JAIME R. PILAPIL