September 25, 2017, 1:44 am
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Alvarez: Comelec chief’s wife best person to file impeach case

SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday said the best person to file an impeachment complaint against Comelec Chair Andy Bautista is none other than his estranged wife, Patricia, who is accusing him of not reporting in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) some P1 billion in alleged unexplained wealth.

“If his (Bautista) wife intends to file an impeachment complaint, she can file it before the House of Representatives and we have to process it,” he said, “It’s because she has personal knowledge (of the allegations).”

Alvarez assured the estranged couple that details of their marital woes would be off limits if a complaint is tackled.

The pro-Duterte group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption is moving to file an impeachment case against Bautista and has asked the NBI for certified copies of documents submitted to it by Patricia.

Alvarez said the matter of money laundering should be looked into based on Patricia’s claim her husband has several accounts in a small bank, the Luzon Development Bank.

Patricia is also claiming she has proof her husband received commissions from Smartmatic Corp. through the Divina Law Firm, the managing partner of which, Nilo Divina, is said to be the chairman’s close friend.

Patricia claims her husband received P500,000 in referral fees from Smartmatic which is accused of manipulating results of the May 2016 elections.

Smartmatic is the company that provided the vote counting machines for the 2010, 2013 and 2016 elections. Last June, the Department of Justice approved the criminal indictment of Smartmatic and several Comelec personnel for the unauthorized change in the computer system on the night of the May 9 local and national elections.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue said it has formed an investigating team to determine if Bautista has tax liabilities.

“Pursuant to our discussion, I have constituted a special team to investigate the possible violations of the NIRC (National Internal Revenue Code) by Atty. Juan Andres Bautista, Mrs. Patricia Paz Bautista, Atty. Nilo Divina, the Divina Law Firm, the Luzon Development Bank and other related parties,” BIR chief Cesar Dulay said in an August 14 letter to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

Based on his SALN, Bautista had a net worth of P176.3 million for 2016. 

Alvarez said Bautista should seriously consider stepping down from his post if only to save the integrity and credibility of the poll body.

“I think Chairman Bautista should consider that seriously because when you head that agency which is handling elections, it really has to be credible. Once it gets tarnished, it’s really not good,” he said.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said she has advised Bautista to go on leave so he can focus on his defense and “while he is deciding on his options to -- in his own words -- resign or stay and fight.”

She said the seven-man commission en banc could function even with Bautista on leave. – With Ashzel Hachero and Gerard Naval
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