Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista said Monday his wife asked for a P620-million settlement, threatening to report him to President Rodrigo Duterte if he did not agree to the amount.
Bautista told reporters that his wife, Patricia Paz, sent him this ultimatum through her lawyer as early as June.
“Yung kanyang abogado, tinext ako. Ang sabi ito raw ang terms niya at humihingi nga ng amount of P620 million. Kung hindi ko raw ibibigay pupuntahan daw niya si President Duterte. Yun ang warning,” the Comelec chief said.
Patricia is claiming that her husband, from whom she is estranged, has undeclared wealth amounting to nearly P1 billion.
In response to the Comelec chief’s claim about the settlement, Patricia’s camp said they were not trying to extort money from Bautista.
“There were negotiations about the settlement of the properties, but we never exploited anything. We never had that idea or that intent or that goal to extort money because it was a negotiation to settle the properties. It’s a very peculiar situation,” said Patricia’s legal counsel Martin Loon in a television interview.
Loon added he could not remember texting Bautista about the alleged P620 million settlement demand.
“I do not remember telling him anything. I just told him that his wife is considering bringing it to the attention of the President or the attention of higher authorities. I think that was the context of what was said,” he said.
Patricia, who told Duterte about Bautista’s supposed undeclared wealth on July 26, executed an affidavit before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on August 1 that she found bank and real property documents in the name of her husband and his relatives that were not reflected in his 2016 Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
Apart from undeclared assets, Patricia also claimed to have found “several checks and commission sheets” issued by University of Santo Tomas Civil Law dean Nilo Divina, who owns a law firm in Makati City, in Bautista’s name and his family members.
Divina, managing partner and founder of Divina Law, allegedly made the payoffs in light of cases handled by the law firm pending before the Comelec.
Bautista has already denied the allegations of undeclared/unexplained wealth while Divina said he is planning to take legal action against those who dragged his name into the controversy.