(UPDATE – 8:00 p.m.) MANILA – To embattled Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista, the nightmare of being accused by his estranged wife that he amassed ill-gotten wealth is akin to rape, stripping him of his name and dignity. It also has an ominous implication, however: was she used by political forces to discredit the results of the 2016 elections?
An emotional Bautista faced the media Monday morning, hours after news broke about his wife Patricia Paz making the allegations – this, despite appearing with him a few days ago before President Rodrigo Duterte, who reportedly counseled them to try and repair their marriage.
“Ako ang biktima dito, biktima ng pagtataksil, at ako din po ay nabiktima ang aking pagkatao para akong nagahasa sa aking sariling pamamahay [I’m the victim here, a victim of betrayal. My person has been violated; I feel like someone raped in his own house],” Bautista said.
He categorically denied Patricia’s claim he had stolen as much as P1 billion, using his very powerful post as Comelec chief. Before Comelec, he had chaired the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency created in 1987 to chase after ill-gotten wealth.
According to Bautista, his wife faked and misrepresented some of the documents she showed media.
He said he can explain all entries in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
“[Some] accounts [are] fake, they do not exist. [As for the] 35 bank accounts, [I can’t state the number with certainty because the] pass book was stolen. I cannot verify but I don’t think it’s that high,” he said.
He said he only had one offshore accounts, shared with family. He stressed that “over the years my family including my parents who are heirs, have been regularly co-investing with me.”
Bautista said he and Patricia separated in 2013, because she allegedly cheated on him.
He said he put up with the infidelity for the sake of their children.
In November 2016, however, Patricia allegedly broke into his unit and forced open some cabinets, got some ATM cards, cash and financial documents owned by the Bautista family.
“I got a call from BDO who said my wife was withdrawing 117,000 US dollars, 250,000 pesos [and] transferring [to her] personal account.”
Patricia allegedly told him they must first settle their separation issues before he would be allowed to come home. Bautista said he responded that this was tantamount to extortion.
He said Patricia Paz had allegedly demanded P620 million from him. He said she even threatened to bring the issue to Malacañang if he does not come across. However, Bautista said he did not budge.
Duterte plays counselor
Then, last August 1, Bautista was called to Malacañang where he faced off with Patricia in front of the President.
“Nakinig ako sa payo ng pangulo. Biglaan na lang na lumabas ang affidavit. Nagbigay ang pangulo ng numero na fair. Siguro installment para magkaroon ng kapayapaan [I heeded the President’s advice; but then the affidavit suddenly came out. The President had suggested a fair amount, and maybe for me to give it in installment, just so there would be peace].”
Bautista said during the meeting, he had told the President, “hindi ako kapit-tuko, di ako kapit-tuko. Kung wala na credibility, wala naman problema. Sabi nya [I don’t cling to my position. If I no longer am credible, there’s no problem about resigning. But the President said], ‘no, I am not asking you to resign.'”
Bautista said he thought the matter was resolved with that meeting, and was shocked by Patricia’s revelation of his alleged ill-gotten wealth.
He believes his estranged wife had been used by “political forces,” adding that “[we already have] information [on who it is]. But we are still vetting info. They’re not just designed to smear me, but also taint the credibility of the 2016 elections. I must say that election is the best and cleanest election.”
Bautista denied he had profited from Smartmatic, Comelec’s main technology supplier for the automated election.
He said he is ready to face any investigation or impeachment complaint.
He is studying his next moves and possible course of action against his wife.
Nonetheless, he remains hopeful their problem can be resolved.
“My only message is to think of the children. The beginning and end of all this is simply, what’s best for our children,” Bautista added, speaking mostly in Filipino.
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