Sotto eyes probe of Bautista’s 2016 SALN, chooses between blue ribbon and finance

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SENATOR Vicente  “Tito” Sotto 3rd said that the Senate would investigate the questionable statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista.

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“Either Monday of Tuesday,’ the Senate majority floor leader told The Manila Times at a forum in Manila on Wednesday.

Sotto said he would talk to Senator Richard Gordon later in the day on whether the blue ribbon committee head would take cognizance of the issue.  If not, he said he would talk to Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, head of committee on banking and finance, to spearhead the inquiry.

“If he will change his (Senator Richard Gordon) mind, then I will talk to Senator Chiz (Escudero) who is inclined to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation.

We need to amend the SALN because the government employee can just make a correction if there is some error found later,” he added.

“This is not just a family problem or couple’s quarrel. It is a national problem, a very serious allegation of circumventing RA 76 13 or Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees which requires all government employees to submit their truthful SALN,” he said.

Sotto said the wife of Bautista—Patricia Paz Cruz—would be invited to the hearing as a resource person, not as a witness against her estranged husband like in court proceedings.

When asked if the hearing would turn political, the senator from Quezon City said “it was unavoidable” but assured the public that “he will not dwell on it”.

“The more there is a need for this hearing because we want to know what really happened in the 2016 elections if there were irregularities.  Now if they don’t want to tackle this issue, then we exclude it,” he said.

“What we want to discover is how RA 7613 is being implemented.  We can introduce amendments to avoid abuse of it.  Anyway, we have to revisit the law on Anti-Money Laundering Act which needs more amendments like the limit of P400,000 deposit,” he added.

Bautista’s wife had submitted a 10-page affidavit to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) detailing the multi-million bank deposits of the poll body chief, which he failed to include in his 2016 SALN that he filed before the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Comelec chief denied all allegations, countering that his wife is just extorting millions of pesos and that ‘she is having an illicit affair’.

In December 2011, former chief justice Renato Corona was impeached for a misdeclared SALN.  On May 2012, he was eventually found guilty of Article II of the Articles of Impeachment pertaining to his failure to disclose to the public his SALN.

 

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