PATRICIA Paz Bautista, wife of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres “Andy” Bautista, on Tuesday said she wanted half of her husband’s “clean” money, appearing on television a day after news broke of her claim that the elections chief hid nearly P1 billion in assets.
“By law, I’m entitled to half of what Andy owns but I want only what is clean. This is why I’m bringing this to the government, to tell me which part is clean,” she told broadcaster Karen Davila over the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC).
The Bautistas’ marital feud has become a matter of public interest after Patricia claimed her husband did not disclose hundreds of millions of pesos in bank accounts and real estate in his statement of assets and liabilities (SALN), and that he accepted illegal commissions or client referral fees from the Divina Law office.
Experts say Bautista faces graft charges and could be impeached in the same manner as the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was convicted by the Senate impeachment court in 2012 for misdeclaration in his SALN.
Bautista vowed to prove two things in court – that he has no ill-gotten wealth and that his estranged wife had an illicit affair with another man.
“We will [prove them]in court,” said Bautista in a text message to The Manila Times. “I am the aggrieved party here and I’m ready to prove them in court.”
Bautista said his wife wanted P620 million or half of the amount of the bank deposits and properties including those that were not allegedly included in his 2016 SALN.
He claimed that Patricia asked for P620 million sometime in June, with a warning that “if I will not give it, she will go to President Duterte.”
The two met Duterte in Malacañang on August 1, the same day Patricia executed an affidavit containing her allegations.
Patricia however told ANC she demanded P260 million, not P620 million, as a “trust fund for my kids.” The Bautistas have four children.
She denied having an affair with ex-model Alvin Lim, but admitted she became friends with him because of their shared “psychic” abilities.
The Comelec chief also denied receiving commissions from the Divina Law Office even as he admitted his closeness with Nilo Divina, a commercial lawyer and dean of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law.
He said Divina Law “has no client with pending protest with the Comelec.”
Divina has also denied Patricia’s allegations.
“We’re not making any official detailed comments for now but we’re taking legal actions. None of [the accusations]are true. [I’m] sure I did not do anything wrong [and that]I did not do anything unethical,” Divina told the Varsitarian, UST’s official student publication.
According to Patricia, Divina’s law firm has been handling, among others, government clients like Baseco and the United Coconut Planters Bank, which Bautista dealt with when he was chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government prior to becoming Comelec chief.
With no impeachment complaint filed yet against Bautista, the Senate has jurisdiction to investigate him over ill-gotten wealth, some senators said.
Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd and Francis Escudero on Tuesday cited the Senate probe in 2015 on the alleged involvement of then vice president Jejomar Binay in the overpricing of a parking building in Makati City.
But Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said senators must wait for an impeachment case against Bautista to reach the Senate.
Escudero said that just like Bautista, Binay was an impeachable official under the Constitution.
“The Senate investigated Binay before. What if after investigation by the Senate, he (Bautista) is able to prove that he did no wrongdoing? Or what if no impeachment case is filed?” Escudero said.
Sotto will refer on Wednesday to the blue ribbon panel his resolution seeking to investigate Bautista’s hidden wealth.
“Why was it that there was an investigation on the allegation against the President about extrajudicial killings? That is also an impeachable offense,” Sotto said.
Gordon said: “We will discuss this thoroughly. This guy, Bautista, is a Comelec chairman, a constitutional official.”
“If I’m going to investigate him and then someone will impeach him there will be a duplication of the investigation,” he said.
with BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO