Senate probes Comelec chief’s multimillion-peso bank accounts

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THE Senate is investigating the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista, which he stashed in a thrift bank.

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Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, will lead the inquiry in response to the formal request of Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd and Panfilo Lacson.

Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia, claimed that the Comelec chief has over P1 billion in hidden wealth which included cash deposits with the Luzon Development Bank (LDB), amounting to P329.2 million in 35 passbooks.

Patricia also accused Bautista of not declaring the following local and foreign bank accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN)–foreign currency account with Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., $12,778.30 or P640,959.53; an RCBC peso account, P257,931.60; and an HSBC (Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corp. account, HK$948,358.97 or P6.10 million.

“The probe will be limited to the bank accounts and will not delve into the personal problems of the Bautistas,” Escudero said.

Invited to the public hearing were officials from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), and LDB.

Sotto and Lacson filed last week Senate Resolution 468 asking Escudero to conduct the investigation to determine whether Bautista violated Republic Act No. 9160 or the amended Anti-Money Laundering Act. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO

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