• The war of the Bautistas and the unmasking of partisan feminism

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    ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

    I HAVE had it with the quote “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” because it creates this mythology that only women can become irrationally vengeful when crossed.

    Irrational vengeance knows no gender and sexual orientation. A scorned man is as vengeful as a scorned woman. The stereotyping of women as scheming to get even with the men who make their lives miserable is but a patriarchal device to dismiss women’s rational rage as something that defies logic and reason, and could only go viscerally personal.

    In the case of the marital tiff between Patricia “Tisha” Bautista and her husband Andres “Andy” Bautista, who is chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), it can indeed be said that Tisha was the one the one who made the public disclosure about the alleged hidden bank accounts and other assets which Andy Bautista failed to include in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). However, it was Andy who held a series of press conferences where he talked about the private indiscretions of his wife whom he also accused of extorting money from him.

    We should take notice. Tisha’s press conference and sworn affidavit merely talked about the possibility of public corruption of Andy. And it was Andy who retaliated by maligning his wife and painting her as a gold-digging adulterer. In this theater of accusations, it is pretty obvious to whom the phrase “hell hath no fury” can easily attach.

    Frankly, the marital dispute between the two is none of any taxpayer’s business, and hence should not be aired in public. And for this, Tisha does not owe us any explanation about the allegations made by her husband against her. But certainly, issues of corruption and failure by any public official to live up to the standards of public service is a business which all citizen taxpayers have a right, if not a duty, to poke our noses into.

    And here, Andy Bautista has a lot of explaining to do.

    He has to explain why he has huge amounts of bank deposits in his name in a relatively small bank. He has to further explain why he did not list these and other assets in his SALN.

    He has to also come clean and tell us if it is true that he continued to receive commissions from a law firm in consideration of clients he referred to it, and if so, he has to explain why.

    He has to convince us about the plausibility of his allegations that the documents are fake, and if so, to further explain why he was keeping fake documents in his possession.

    And he has to make us believe in the logical rationality of his defense that the monies in his bank accounts are actually owned by his siblings, when the more prudent practice for a politically exposed personality like him holding a sensitive position was to divest from all his assets and transfer these to other people during the period of his incumbency. Fully aware of what happened to former Chief Justice Renato Corona, it would have been totally reckless for a lawyer with vast international experience like Andy Bautista to take in the monies of his siblings, put them in his name, and then fail to disclose these in his SALN.

    There are questions that beg to be answered considering that Andy is chairman of the Comelec, and the alleged timing of the deposits occurred in 2016, where allegations of massive electoral fraud were made. The suspicion of a connection has to be clearly and categorically dispelled, for the alternative would be a fatal wounding of one of the pillars of our democracy.

    What happened to the Bautistas should matter to us not for its salacious extra-marital allegations. The only matter of public interest is whether what was revealed by Tisha is evidence not only of corruption, but also of our democratic processes being undermined and compromised.

    It is in this regard that the attacks on Tisha Bautista’s moral virtue, triggered no less by her husband’s public declaration, should be condemned for being totally irrelevant, and for being anti-woman.

    It is in fact a clear example of misogyny.

    It is typical of misogyny to shut up women who speak up by diminishing their voices and calling them as irrationally angry, or worse, by questioning their morals.

    For all intents and purposes, Andy Bautista slut-shamed his wife when he accused her of extorting money from him, and alleged that she was having an affair.

    And it is here that one needs to ask. Where are the feminists? Why are they not defending Tisha?

    Feminists came to the rescue of Leila de Lima. They accused the President and some senators of slut-shaming her. They carried placards at press conferences and in street demonstrations, even as they came up with an Internet campaign in social media hash-tagged as #everywoman.

    And this behooves us to ask. Is Tisha Bautista not included in this universe of women whose public standing and voices are being diminished by focusing on their private sins?

    And it is here where it becomes clear that some feminists in this country have been so compromised by their own partisan biases that they forgot to include in their advocacy platforms those women who are also being treated badly but happen to occupy spaces in the political equation that are harmful to their partisan interests. Meanwhile, anonymous social media accounts identified with the opposition have already begun crucifying Tisha Bautista.

    In the end, one has to ask how Tisha Bautista’s revelations about Andy Bautista’s bank deposits could be deemed as a partisan attack against any political interest, enough for some partisan feminists not to take Tisha’s pain as worth fighting for, and for pro-LP social media accounts to begin attacking her.

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