Comelec chair cries extortion, blackmail

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Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres D. Bautista claimed he is a victim of betrayal following allegations made by his estranged wife, Patricia Paz Bautista, that he has amassed ill-gotten wealth.

“This is a money play. She (Patricia) asked me for a lot of money. She knew about all the bank accounts. This a case of extortion and blackmail,” Bautista decried.

Patricia, in her affidavit and statement emailed to news organizations late Sunday night claimed that her husband has accumulated ill-gotten wealth amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos in 38 bank accounts and real estate properties here and abroad that he failed to declare in his 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALN.

Patricia Paz “Tish” C. Bautista, in a statement, said she decided to come forward and reveal the truth about her husband in her desire to protect herself, her children’s integrity, and to fight for decency in public service.

Patricia said she inadvertently discovered several items in their home – money in checkbooks, passbooks, several offshore accounts, gift-wrapped bundles of cash amounting to millions, and various titles to properties – that prove that Bautista accumulated wealth far in excess of what he has declared in his SALN which was P176.3 million.

There were 30 bank accounts with the Luzon Development Bank Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City branch which collectively totaled P227,701,053; five bank accounts with the Luzon Development Bank Makati branch with a total amount of P101,519,909; two accounts with Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation – P257,931.60 and US dollar 12,778.30; and an account with Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) amounting to Hong Kong dollar948,358.97

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Patricia said she also found RCBC checkbooks which also indicate substantial deposits to LDB accounts.

“A mathematical computation of all these amounts shows that Andy did not declare in his 2016 SALN all of these stated amount and actually left out a substantial portion thereof,” she added.

She also claimed that the substantial deposits and withdrawals on each of the bank accounts were made within the last two years, and coincidentally, while he was already the Comelec chairman and when the 2016 national and local elections were conducted.

She also listed the following as real estate properties that the Comelec chair purchased but did not declare in his SALN: Unit 17A, The Suite at One Bonifacio High Street plus parking slots and The District in San Francisco, California, USA.

Apart from local properties, Patricia also discovered investments made by her husband abroad in the form of his interests in corporations and loan agreements as follows: Bauman Enterprises Limited that Bautista set up with the Bank of Singapore; Mantova International Limited, a company established in Brunei Darussalam on April 26, 2011; and Mega Achieve Inc., a company established in Anguilla on July 15, 2014.

She also accused her husband of hiring the services of a law firm of one of his best friends she identified as Atty. Nilo Divina in order “to profit from his position in the Comelec.

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“Based on the documents I found, Nilo issued several checks in Andy’s name and that of his family members, as Andy’s commission for assisting the law firm’s clients with the Comelec. What made me highly suspicious is that Nilo’s law firm has been handling, among others, government clients such as BASECO and UCPB, two government entities that Andy constantly dealt with while he was the PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Government) chairman,” Mrs. Bautista said.

She said this created an impression that based on the breakdown sheets and checks that she found, her husband was getting commissions from Divina while he was in active government service.

These discoveries, she said, also made her realize that Bautista could be subject to several criminal violations, including Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Anti-Money Laundering Act, and possibly impeachment.

Illegal, immoral

“I fear that perhaps some properties and finances our family may have accumulated/benefitted from during his time in office may have originated from illegal or immoral acts or conducts,” Patricia said.

“My family and children are all Catholics. The last thing that I want my children to learn is that our family’s wealth has been sourced from corruption and illegal actions,” she stressed, adding that she wants to make a clear distinction between “clean” and “dirty” money that forms part of their conjugal property.

Patricia said her husband had since cut off any financial support to his family.

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He also reportedly reminded her that whatever attempt she will make to expose him will be bound to fail as “he has enough clout to influence judges, the Ombudsman, senators, and even justices of the land.”

“I have also been told that several PR practitioners have been hired to besmirch my reputation. Still, despite all these attempts to cower me, I am issuing this statement with one goal: to fight for the truth, for myself, my children, and for our country.”

“I have come to realize that at this point when my own husband has pushed my back to the wall and where I have to decide between my comfort and the good of my children, there is nothing left to do but to expose what I know, and speak truth to power.”

Patricia also said: “I believe that someone like Andy, although extremely professionally qualified, should not be allowed to hold any government position as a consequence of possible ramification of what I have found.”

A case of Violence Against Women and Children has been filed against Bautista before the Office of the Prosecutor in Taguig City for what Patricia called “emotional and economic sabotage that he is performing against me and my family.”

The Comelec chairman said he is consulting his lawyers.

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