Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday order the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista’s alleged failure to declare PHP1 billion of his wealth.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Monday filed a resolution seeking a probe into the reported “ill-gotten wealth” Bautista as alleged by his estranged wife, Patricia Paz Bautista.
“The NBI, through its Director, 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 net worth (SALN) 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,” read the order signed by Aguirre.
Bautista can be charged with criminal cases only after removal from office through impeachment.
“The NBI may conduct any investigation of any government official, regardless of whether they are impeachable or not. Being charged is different from being investigated. You could use the investigation to support the impeachment charges,” Aguirre explained further.
Aguirre required the NBI to submit a monthly report on any updates of its investigation.
The allegation against Bautista came after his wife met with President Duterte and executed an affidavit, which was then forwarded to the NBI.
In her affidavit, Patricia, said she has discovered a number of assets that were not listed in his SALN.
She said she was disclosing “certain information and documents that would show that Andy (Bautista’s nickname) might have had, or currently has, misdealing and corrupt practices while in government service.”
The Comelec chief already denied the allegation, stressing it could be a part of extortion by his estranged wife, who he revealed has asked for a PHP620-million settlement.
Bautista declared a net worth of PHP176.3 million in his SALN.
Under Sotto’s resolution 456, he urged the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to conduct an inquiry into Bautista’s alleged ill-gotten wealth amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos, bank accounts, and other properties which he failed to declare in his 2016 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
Sotto said that under the Constitution, “public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests.”
“Comelec must not only be compliant with the laws ensuring honesty and integrity in the performance of government service but also be above suspicion of any irregularity being the guardian of the Philippine electoral systems,” Sotto said in his resolution.
The Senator further said there is a need to determine if the present law is adequate enough to ensure compliance by all public officials with the provisions on the required submission of SALN.
“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 setup Chairman Bautista occupies.,” Sotto added. with PNA