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10:38 PM August 10th, 2017

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By: Atty. Ruphil Bañoc, August 10th, 2017 10:38 PM

BAÑOC

How sad it is to imagine for a couple who once promised to have and to hold each other, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health and till death do part them to end up in great trouble that is witnessed not only by their neighbors but the entire country.

Just recently, Mrs. Patricia Bautista, wife of Commission on Election (Comelec) Chairman Andress “Andy” Bautista, exposed in public the alleged anomalies of her husband by having ill-gotten wealth in his many bank accounts, both local and foreign, and properties amounting to P1.2 billion.

Such assets are allegedly not declared in his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN), a requirement he is supposed to follow under the law.

Mrs. Bautista added that the couple’s SALN is P174 million, but she discovered that there is a huge amount of money and many properties under the exclusive name of her husband of which she has been blinded about. Her allegations are backed up with documents such as receipts, vouchers, et cetera, including a piece of evidence in relation to Smartmatic company.

Chairman Bautista, for his part, vehemently denied the allegations of his wife saying he is a victim of extortion by the latter who demanded a share of P600 million. He retaliated by accusing his wife of having a third party.

He also said that he was careful of divulging his finances because her wife is extravagant that he ended up paying a P3.2-million bill in her credit card.
Patricia, in a reply through the media, categorically denied the allegations of her husband. She said she only demands, for herself and her children, her one-half share of the clean money/assets of her husband.

On Bautista’s claim that his wife is extravagant, hence he purposely made secrets of some of his money, is somewhat sound and valid if he is a private person. On the contrary, as a high-ranking government official, that argument is questionable because of the requirement of SALN. How can he keep some of his assets secret from his wife when he is mandated by law to divulge everything to the public through his SALN?

It must be out of instinct that Bautista’s wife met the President instead of going directly to any other office. She did not come out with empty talk. She came out with what she and her lawyer may have considered as damning evidence against her husband. While I do not say she has a case, I say this is something no one, lawyer or not, could just shrug his/her shoulder off.

As there are many accusations and counter-allegations from camps, this means that the couple’s trouble will still take a long time before it ends. More so now that there are enough reasons for the government to come in in investigating the alleged SALN and ill-gotten wealth of Chairman Bautista as the issues become impressed with public interest.

For now, it is still too early to make judgments against Chairman Bautista. There are still legal processes to be observed, and there is a need to prove if the accusations against him have sufficient basis.

In the meantime, the best thing today for Andy, wife Patricia, their four children and the Comelec as an institution, is for the chairman to tender his irrevocable resignation. He has to face his problem with his wife as a private citizen. By so doing, at least he will not be placed always in the news headlines. Media knows how to make distinction in covering a private ordinary person versus a prominent high-ranking government official who is in active service.

Bautista should not wait for impeachment proceedings to be initiated. He should imagine the consequences when his very own wife will serve as a star witness of a fully televised trial. On the other hand, his counterattacks against his wife by filing many cases against her will also surely attract the media’s full coverage if he will remain as a Comelec chairman.

For Bautista’s own good, he has to let go of his position at Comelec to free himself from the additional back-breaking pressure of defending himself in his work as chairman facing his serious problem. Such act is also a gentleman’s act for the sake of his wife and four children to avoid washing dirty linens in public. He will also be doing a heroic act by saving the Comelec as an institution that could be unnecessarily dragged into his issue being the chairman and supposedly the face of the institution. At the very least, delicadeza demands that he should resign.

Everybody in the Comelec, including Bautista himself, knows that he is not indispensable in the said office. The institution can move forward without him staying in his position. There would more damage to the institution than gain if he continues to stay as its chairman. After all, every lawyer in the Comelec has the capacity to supplant and deliver such duty if given the opportunity.

In fact, people would even suspect him if he tightly holds to his position. If Bautista does not resign, the inevitable and intriguing questions would be: What is something in there that Bautista wants to cling to? Is there something he wants to hide in his office that may become dangerous if discovered by his successor? Are there unfinished monkey businesses that prompted him not to quit?

If he is sincere in his person, resignation is his best option. Such act doesn’t mean that he is guilty anyway. It would be to the best interest of his very own family, of Comelec and of our beloved country.

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