Tuesday 15 August 2017

COMELEC chair’s wife a state witness?

Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Andres Bautista should find himself a damn good lawyer.

Department of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II just told reporters that the wife of the COMELEC chair Patricia Paz Bautista can apply in the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Government security may be provided by the government thru its WPP, since reports that Bautista’s estranged wife has been receiving death threats since submitting her affidavit accusing the head of COMELEC of hidden wealth amounting to some PHP1 billion.
Patricia Cruz-Bautista, the estranged wife of COMELEC chair Andres Bautista, claims in her affidavit that her husband has unexplained wealth. (photo credit to Rappler.com)

Patricia Paz Bautista states in her affidavit that her husband had money in banks, condominiums, and interest and shares in companies established overseas worth almost PHP1 billion which he did not declare in his 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). The declared net worth that was submitted by Bautista for the year 2016 was only PHP 176.3 million.

It was former president Benigno S. Aquino III who appointed  Bautista last May of 2015 to head the COMELEC. 

Over the weekend it was reported that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will be joining the ongoing probe on the alleged undeclared wealth.

 "The BIR wants to partner with us in this investigation. We need to see if there are tax liabilities based on the affidavit and documents we have gathered," said Aguirre, who met with BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay on Sunday as they discussed the parameters of the investigation and sharing of documents and findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Last week, the Aguire was very explicit in giving his orders to the NBI, to probe the allegations against the Comelec chair and build criminal cases that could be pursued once Bautista resigns, finishes his term or be removed from his post via impeachment.

The NBI was directed to ask for bank records of accounts under the COMELEC chair’s name with the Anti-Money Laundering Council  (AMLC).

Aguire stated that the NBI  had already coordinated with various agencies including the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to examine the more than 30 bank accounts mentioned by Patricia.

"The conduct of parallel money laundering investigation was likewise requested from AMLC," the NBI report stated.

The NBI likewise coordinated with the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) which Bautista headed from 2010 to 2015.

The NBI have also with coordinated with the Office of the Ombudsman for Bautista's SALN. They also coordinated with the Land Registration Authority (LRA), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and various property developers.

In answering the question from reporters “why the through and swift investigation”, Aguirre said the marital spat is unfortunate "but the government has to protect the public interest."
Reports from PNA.gov.ph

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