AT the outset, the only issue of concern for the public on the matter of the dispute between the Bautista spouses, Andres (Andy) and Patricia (Tisha), is the political ramifications of the latter’s revelations on our democratic processes and on good governance.
To be specific, the core of the issue is whether Andy Bautista betrayed public trust when he failed to report in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) the millions of pesos worth of deposits in the Luzon Development Bank under his name, together with those of his wife Tisha and his relatives. These deposits were revealed in the passbooks which Tisha made public, and the existence of which was later publicly confirmed not only by Andy but also by his brother Martin.
However, extending deeper into the core of our democratic process is the political context within which these accounts exist, their sources, and their purpose. There are insinuations that these may have links to the allegations of fraud that occurred during the 2016 elections.
There are other serious issues that Andy Bautista faces. There are possible ethical charges that can attach to him, particularly on his alleged acceptance of commissions or referral fees from a law firm even when he was already in government. Most damning of this is the allegation that one of the transactions for which he received money involved Smartmatic, which was the automated election service provider contracted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) which he chairs. And these ethical concerns can lead to cases which can be filed against him in applicable forums, depending on whether he remains as head of the Comelec for which he can be impeached, or resigns, after which he can be charged in the courts.
It is Andy Bautista who should be on trial here.
Yet a big portion of the narrative is now devoted to demolishing Tisha Bautista. The attacks have become so virulent and nasty that they defy any sense of proportion or symmetry.
It is none of our business to judge what kind of woman Tisha is. Yet, she is now being judged as if she is on some government payroll whose job description requires her to be a good wife, an ideal mother and an obedient daughter.
Instead of focusing on Andy’s possible public sins as Comelec chairman, many people, including those in the media, devote their time to focusing on Tisha’s alleged private sins. They take her to task for being a bad wife to Andy and an irresponsible mother to her four sons and, with the fact that even her own mother abandoned her, a prodigal daughter too.
After all, as her critics have alleged, what kind of wife would publicly shame her husband and wash their dirty laundry in public. People ask what kind of mother would put her children in harm’s way by exposing them to ridicule and shame, and even possibly bullying. They further ask what kind of daughter Tisha is that even her own mother is taking the side of her husband.
There are three streams of argument that are deployed to diminish Tisha’s worth as a woman.
She is being painted as an adulterer by her own husband. This is the woman as slut card.
Her critics make fun of her claim that she is psychic, and that she has a third eye. This is the crazy woman card.
She is being painted as a gold digger, with her husband even accusing her of extortion. This is the materialistic woman card.
But any rational mind can only conclude that it must have been a grave matter that pushed a wife, mother and daughter like Tisha to risk everything and do what she did. She must have been keeping the pain to herself, and it only needed a trigger.
If it is only money that Tisha is after, then by law, as the legal wife, she already is entitled to half of what Andy owns. Thus, she is therefore taking the wrong strategy in implicating Andy in some kind of corruption, for it can jeopardize his entitlement to his assets, and thus her share of those assets.
But what is really deeply offensive here is the use of the family and the children as always the reason why women must keep quiet, or just endure the burden of failed marriages to maintain a façade of wholeness. People blame Tisha even if they don’t know the entire story. They put on her shoulder the guilt of betraying her marriage to Andy and of jeopardizing the welfare of her sons, as if the responsibility to keep the marriage and family together is solely hers.
But Tisha is not just a woman and a mother. She is also a citizen of this republic.
She defies the stereotype of a wife who is expected to just keep quiet about the possible public sins of a husband if only for the sake of the children and the family. She challenges this rubric that is so unfair to women, for it turns them into keepers of dark secrets and renders them complicit with possible corrupt acts.
One can just imagine the corruption that would have been exposed had women who knew a lot, with access to information stored in bank accounts, locked cabinets and laptops, only spoke up.
Tisha told her sons that their father was not a bad person, but he made bad choices for which he must take responsibility, and suffer the consequences. She handed to the NBI documents that can possibly incriminate him, after which she quietly reverted to her role as a mother to her sons.
She may not have been a good wife to Andy, but in her own way she remained a good mother and a responsible citizen.