The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has opened an investigation into the tax payments of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista following allegations of ill-gotten wealth by his estranged wife.
But the tax probe is not limited to the Comelec chief, and will extend to his estranged wife, Patricia Paz, and the Divina Law office headed by commercial lawyer Nilo Divina.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd said this was due to the fact that the three were involved in bank accounts under the name of the Comelec chairman.
The Justice department chief presented to the media a copy of the BIR order to a five-man panel that will conduct the investigation for tax fraud.
Regional Director Glen Geraldino of Revenue Region No. 8 in Makati City will lead the panel formed by BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay through Revenue Special Order 706-2017 issued on Monday.
Assisting Geraldino are revenue district officers from San Pablo, Laguna, Mandaluyong, Taguig-Pateros, and North Makati.
The Divina Law office is also in hot water, particularly University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina, who allegedly deposited money to the bank accounts of the Comelec chief.
Also, Luzon Development Bank and Smartmatic Corp., supplier of automated election machines, who allegedly gave commissions to Bautista through Divina.
A separate probe by the National Bureau of Investigation into Bautista’s alleged ill-gotten wealth has also begun.
In a 10-page affidavit dated August 1, Patricia accused her husband of accumulating ill-gotten wealth, claiming the Comelec chief had P1 billion in assets but declared only P176.3 million in his 2016 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
Patricia, 47, with whom Bautista has four children, is demanding her legal share of her husband’s legitimate income.
Speaker to Bautista: Resign
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday said Bautista should seriously consider resigning from his post.
But resignation does not mean Bautista will be off the hook, he said. Alvarez also said he welcomed moves to impeach the Comelec chief.
“Chairman Bautista should consider that (resignation) seriously because when you lead the agency handling the country’s elections, it has to be credible. It’s not good if it’s tainted,” Alvarez said in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel.
If Patricia files an impeachment complaint against her own husband, “we have to process it,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said Patricia’s “personal knowledge” of the Comelec chairman’s alleged unexplained wealth would merit a legislative investigation.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Wednesday urged Bautista to go on leave.
“I advised Chair Bautista to take a leave immediately while he is deciding on his options to, in his own words, ‘resign or stay and fight,’” Guanzon said on Twitter.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL AND JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ