NBI Headquarters in Manila

The NBI headquarters in Manila (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will be conducting an investigation into the possible anomalies at the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) as part of its probe on the reported unexplained wealth of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Andres Bautista, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Wednesday.

“I made a DO (Department Order) for them (NBI) to investigate matters of unexplained wealth, the matter of possible violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act and possible anomalies at the PCGG,” Aguirre told reporters who revealed that he is currently talking to three of its commissioners.

Aguirre, however, refused to give further details of the meeting.

Prior to his appointment as Comelec chair, Bautista served as head of the PCGG from 2010 to 2015.

The DOJ chief earlier issued DO 517 giving the NBI authority to investigate and do a case build-up on the allegations of Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia Paz, who claimed that her husband has an undeclared asset worth P1-billion contrary to what is indicated in his statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN).

READ: Wife says Comelec chief has unexplained wealth

Aguirre added that the NBI will coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for the examination of more than 30 bank accounts mentioned by Patricia.

But Aguirre clarified that the result of the NBI investigation, if proven that there was a law violated, will only serve as evidence in case an impeachment complaint is filed against Bautista.

“One is to wait for the expiration of his term (or removal from office via impeachment) before any appropriate criminal cases are filed against him,” Aguirre added.

But Aguirre said “I do not want to make a speculation. I’d rather have the evidence to be gathered by the NBI and then we will submit it to the proper government body assuming there will be (an) impeachment proceeding.”

Aside from money laundering, Aguirre said the government is also looking for possible violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“The NBI, through its director (Dante Gierran), is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct investigation and case build-up over the alleged failure to disclose pertinent information required in the statement of assets, liabilities and networth of Chairperson Andres D. Bautista contained in the affidavit of Mrs. Patricia Paz Bautista including possible determination of violation of Anti-Money Laundering Law and other related laws,” Aguirre’s order stated.

Aguirre required the NBI to submit a monthly report on any updates of its investigation regarding the matter. JPV

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