PRESIDENT Duterte tried to patch up differences between Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista and estranged wife Patricia Paz for the sake of their children.
Bautista denied his wife’s allegations on Monday and hit back at her, saying their marital woes were because of her affair with another man and her demand for P620 million in settlement for their separation.
His wife even withdrew money from their bank accounts at one time when he was in the United States, the Comelec chief claimed.
“The President was very kind, not only as alleviator but as marriage counsellor. He [even]recounted his own experiences with his family, he was providing us good advice,” he added.
Bautista said he was called to Malacañang on August 1 for a 5 p.m. meeting with the President, which eventually started at about 8:30 p.m.
Bautista said he was with his older sister, Susan, mother-in-law and stepfather-in-law, adding that his own mother was not able to make it as she was still recuperating from a stroke.
Unknown to him, Bautista said, his wife was in an adjacent room, and was later called by the President. The three of them talked about saving the marriage.
“The President has a specific recommendation for the sake of our children. I was amenable but I was surprised that suddenly she came out with the affidavit,” Bautista said in Filipino.
He said the affidavit could have been executed even before their meeting in Malacañang.
His wife, Bautista said, wanted a separation since 2013 “because there is a third party on her part.”
According to Bautista, he did everything to save the marriage and even went to counseling, but to no avail.
He said: “Our children are still young. I am trying to save the family. In fact, her mother and my mother basically asked her, ‘Why are you doing this?’”
“What is most important to me are my children, they should be protected.”
Bautista said he was ready to face any charge, including impeachment.
“We are ready to face anything and everything,” he said.
As to his wife’s allegations, Bautista explained that out of the 30 bank accounts he allegedly owned, half were untrue, including his alleged deposit at the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) amounting to HK$98,000.
“In fact I issued a special power of attorney to her so that she can verify if indeed I have those accounts,” he said.
He admitted it was possible he had $12,000 in an account at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.
He also said he had no offshore accounts, saying such accounts were closed in the 1990s, except for one with the Bank of Singapore which is included in his statement of assets and liabilities.
Bautista pointed out that before joining the government, he worked as a lawyer in New York and Hong Kong, became a partner in an English law firm, and later president of Shangrila Hotels in the Philippines.
“I have my sources of income. I have been investing,” Bautista said.
Bautista also clarified that the Divina Law Office, owned by his friend Nilo Divina, has no clients with pending cases before the Comelec.
Bautista said he told the President he was ready to resign.
“The President told me that he is not asking me to resign. ‘It’s your call, he (President) said,’” Bautista added.