Manila: The wife of Commission on Elections chair Andres Bautista has accused her husband of amassing P1 billion (Dh72 million) in supposed commissions from shady deals he had as a top official of the poll administration body.
On Monday, Patricia Paz Bautista publicly accused her husband of accumulating wealth that he supposedly hid from her. The assets include hundreds of millions of pesos in secret bank accounts in the Philippines and abroad, a condominium in the posh One Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City and a flat in San Francisco, California.
Patricia, according to news reports, said she was “completely shocked and surprised”, upon discovering her husband’s hidden wealth.
She said the assets and bank deposits were not declared in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth, which is required by law from government officials.
She said her husband had always been frugal in his spending and that the discovery was unexpected.
“I understand that Andy [Andres], being a high ranking public official, should be accountable and transparent to the public about all these finances, properties and money which, obviously, he was not,” she said.
As head of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Bautista oversees the conduct of elections in the country. In the Philippines, polls are conducted every six years for national positions such as the President and senators as well as congressional and local posts.
Midterm elections are also held for the same positions except for the President and Vice President. Billions of pesos are spent each time the country takes to the polls.
Bautista had presided over elections as Comelec chair since 2015.
Paz said President Rodrigo Duterte had tried to settle the dispute between her and her husband by meeting them at the palace, to no avail.
Reacting to on the matter, Andres said the matter was simply a domestic squabble gone overboard because his wife wants to make money out of the issue.
“I am extremely disappointed over the accusations made by my estranged wife, particularly making false accusations against me and allowing herself to be used to serve the political agenda of some opportunistic people,” he said.
He, in turn, accused Paz of stealing money and deposits from his and his family’s bank account.
“It is now clear that she is motivated by greed and that she will stop at nothing to besmirch my reputation,” he said in a statement.
For its part, the presidential palace said the matter is a “cause of concern”.
The issue could put the credibility and integrity of elections in the country.
“The whole matter has to be fully investigated. At this stage, that’s all we can say,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.
Senator Grace Poe said the matted concerning the Bautista couple is a serious matter. “This goes beyond a domestic dispute. It is an allegation of corruption of epic proportions that definitely concerns public interest given the sensitive position in our democratic set up Chairman Bautista occupies,” she said
“It can no longer be framed merely as a ‘wife vs husband’ quarrel. The information made public points to the possibility of a ‘husband vs the people’ case,” she said.
Poe, as well as Senator Franklin Drilon, said the cause against Comelec Chair Bautista is an “impeachable offence”.
“If the House of Representatives decides that it is an impeachable offence and brings to us the impeachment complaint, then we become juror or judges,” Drilon said.