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Bautista files criminal raps vs estranged wife

By MARTIN A. SADONGDONG & REY G. PANALIGAN

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista filed criminal complaints against his estranged wife, Patricia Cruz-Bautista, before the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office over her allegations that he amassed nearly P1 billion worth of ill-gotten wealth, a local court official confirmed yesterday.

Taguig City Prosecutor Vincent Villena, through her secretary Lovely Dello, said Bautista filed the charges “before noon Tuesday, together with her family”, but did not divulge further information.

However, in an interview over ANC, Bautista revealed: “We filed a case for grave coercion, for qualified theft and robbery, and also for extortion which is in the form of grave threats and life threats.”

Quoting Villena, Dello said Bautista took oath before Associate Prosecutor David Michael Go. The investigating prosecutor assigned to the case will be revealed sometime next week.

Bautista and his wife started exchanging accusations after Patricia claimed she had found several bank documents of the poll chief showing that he did not declare nearly P1 billion in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) for 2016.

Patricia claimed in an affidavit that her husband has accumulated ill-gotten wealth in 38 bank accounts and real estate properties here and abroad which was not in his SALN.

Prior to that, Patricia said he sought audience with President Duterte where she revealed the alleged illegal activities of her husband.

Bautista denied the allegations of his wife and claimed he was a victim of a demolition plot to destroy him due to money issues. He even accused his wife of “attempting to extort money” from him aside from “having an affair.”

“It is now clear she is motivated by greed and that she will stop at nothing to besmirch my reputation and that of my family for the purpose of financial gain, even to the extent of allowing herself to be used by certain people and groups to promote a political agenda designed to cast aspersions on me and the Comelec’s work in the 2016 elections,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook account.

He also said Patricia “stole cash, GCs, ATM cards and other financial documents belonging to myself and my family, many of which her lawyers embellished, doctored or fabricated”, which lawyer Lorna Kapunan, representing Patricia’s camp, denied.

Kapunan said robbery charges cannot be filed against her client since the house where she got the documents is a conjugal property.

Bautista and his wife have two adjoining condominium units in Pacific Plaza Towers at BGC in Taguig City, reports said.

Bautista, being a government official, is immune from lawsuit but can be removed from post through an impeachment.
Bautista said he is willing to quit his post if proven that the allegations were true.
NBI PROBE

In a related development, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II directed yesterday the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in the probe of the bank accounts of the poll chief.

Specifically, Aguirre said the NBI will look into the more than 30 bank accounts alleged by Bautista’s estranged wife.

“The opening of bank accounts is included in my directive to NBI,” he said in an interview.

At the same time, Aguirre said the Department of Justice (DoJ) has to pursue its investigation even if Chairman Bautista and his wife decide to settle their martial dispute.

He said the allegation that Bautista has hidden wealth of at least P1 billion cannot be considered a private issue involving the couple.

“This is not a private relationship matter. It concerns the money of the people of the Philippines. Whether they settle, I think the proceedings will continue either in the impeachment court or in ordinary criminal proceedings,” he added.

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