MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Wednesday, August 9, that any settlement between Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista and his wife Patricia Paz “Tish” Bautista would not save the poll chief from possible criminal charges.
“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 ordinary criminal proceedings,” Aguirre said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday. (READ: Comelec chair cries, says wife’s exposé unfair to kids)
Aguirre earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into Mrs Bautista’s claims that her husband may have amassed nearly P1 billion in unexplained wealth.
The Comelec chief earlier said he and his wife were nearing a settlement – P70 million for her initially – but she supposedly asked for more and that’s when everything turned sour. (READ: Comelec chief: Wife ‘motivated by greed’)
Aguirre said he has directed the NBI to determine whether documents provided by Mrs Bautista can become the basis for filing graft and money laundering cases against the Comelec chief.
Aguirre added that Bautista’s stint as head of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) is also being investigated for possible anomalies. The justice chief said he already met with 3 PCGG commissioners.
The NBI probe will also determine whether Bautista can be impeached. (READ: Malacañang wants thorough probe into wealth claims vs Comelec chair)
“In the event that this investigation will be able to gather some evidence then later on, the evidence gathered during this investigation could be presented as evidence during the impeachment trial,” Aguirre said.
“If he is acquitted in the impeachment trial, there are aspects that may not have been possibly covered by the impeachment trial that he could be investigated [for] and a complaint could be filed despite an acquittal in the impeachment trial. We could wait for the expiration of his term [if he is acquitted] before the appropriate criminal cases are filed.”
Aguirre also said he expects the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to cooperate in the investigation, citing a memorandum of agreement between AMLC and the NBI. (READ: LIST: Bank accounts, properties Comelec chief must explain) – Rappler.com