‘Citizen Bautista’ faces plunder raps for P1.2-B ill-gotten wealth–lawyer 

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THE estranged wife of resigned Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Juan Andres Bautista said plunder charges would be filed against the embattled official over his alleged P1.2 billion in unexplained wealth.

Lawyer Lorna Kapunan said her client, Patricia Bautista, was just waiting for the report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which is separately investigating her husband’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Bautista’s impeachment by the House of Representatives was rendered “moot” after President Rodrigo Duterte accepted his resignation “effective immediately.”

“This may be the end for the House of Representatives, but this is just the beginning for Patricia and for all of us who are helping to assist her in bringing out the plunder not only of an Andy Bautista, now private citizen Andy Bautista in bringing out the plunder and complicity of a Divina Law, Smartmatic and all the family members who made possible stealing from the Filipino people at the very least, P1.2 billion,” Kapunan said in a press conference on Tuesday.

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Bautista’s wife accused the former Comelec official of receiving commissions from Dean Nilo Divina of the University of Santo Tomas Civil Law and head of the Divina Law Office.

She also accused Bautista of receiving P500,000 in referral fees from Smartmatic, the 2016 national elections technology provider.

Bautista denied both allegations.

“Now that Andy Bautista can no longer hide because of his claimed immunity, now that he can no longer boast that he knows Congressmen and Senators and justices and judges because he is now private citizen Andy Bautista… we are on the road of making him accountable to the Filipino people for everything he has stolen,” Kapunan said.

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who wants to enter the government, you will have to be held accountable — if not immediately, at some point in time,” said Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque, one of the three endorsers of the impeachment complaint filed by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio.

“Huwag tayo mawawalan ng pag-asa sa mga institution (Do not lose hope in institutions), because that’s what we were able to prove, that institutions do work, processes do work and we can promote accountability even amongst the most powerful leaders in government,” Roque added.

Kapunan also urged other government agencies to step up and help in investigating the allegations against Bautista in order to uncover the truth.

“There is a need for [the]Senate to continue its investigation in aid of legislation as regards to the violation of the bank secrecy laws and of course as regards to the investigation of the anti-money laundering council, the [Bureau of Internal Revenue] BIR, the [Commission on Audit] COA, all of these must now come ahead and all of us must work together,” Kapunan said.

“We should not let the Filipino people down. We deserve leaders who are duly elected. We deserve the crooks who have stolen to go to jail,” Kapunan said. RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA

 

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