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Comelec chairman’s wife under witness protection

By: Rey G. Panaligan

Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II said yesterday that Patricia Paz Bautista, who accused her husband, Chairman Andres Bautista of the Commission on Elections, of not declaring about P1 billion in wealth was placed provisionally under the government’s Witness Protection Program.

“The provisional admission of Ms. Bautista into the WPP was made in consideration of her safety and security as a potential witness. She has reportedly been receiving threats,” Aguirre said.

He said the protection to Mrs. Bautista under the WPP is different from her protection given by the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation which had started probing into her charges against her husband.

Mrs. Bautista met with Aguirre at the Department of Justice in Manila to seek protection for her and her children.

“If one person is admitted to the WPP, then his or her children also need protection,” Aguirre said.

He pointed out that Mrs. Bautista will be asked to execute an affidavit to determine if she could be qualified for full admission in the WPP.

Mrs. Bautista said she has been receiving “a lot of support and kindness and I can’t be more grateful.”

She said her children go to school and “they are very supportive and they are not being bullied.”

“When I came out against my husband, I was clear I had documents. I did not go to the direction of personal issues.

By doing this, I am doing my best as a Filipino citizen,” she said.

Mrs. Bautista welcomed the cases filed against her by her husband. “Everybody is entitled to his or her opinion and he or she has the freedom to do as she or he pleases.”

Aguirre said they will determine if the inclusion of Mrs. Bautista under the WPP would spare her from criminal charges like tax evasion. “That has to be studied,” he said.

In her affidavit submitted to the NBI after meeting President Duterte last month, Mrs. Bautista claimed that her husband has undeclared money in banks in 35 passbook accounts, condominium units, and interests and shares in overseas companies worth about P1 billion.