Comelec chief's wife never tried to extort money: lawyer

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 07 2017 01:29 PM | Updated as of Aug 07 2017 02:08 PM

MANILA - Mrs. Patricia Bautista, estranged wife of Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista, did not try to extort money from the poll chief, her lawyer said Monday.

Chairman Bautista, in a press conference in his office earlier in the day, said his wife asked for P620-million in exchange for not going public with her allegations.

However, her lawyer said money was discussed only during the negotiations over the couple's settlement of properties, and it was Chairman Bautista who said "that his wife deserves zero."

"There were many different amounts and we were going to and fro. During this whole time, I was meeting with Chairman Andy, just me and him or sometimes me, him, and his sister. We were talking about it. Sabi ko, I do not want to see what’s in the box yet because I don’t want myself to be tainted when I talk to you because I want to talk to you in good faith," Atty. Martin Loon told ANC.

"There were negotiations about the settlement of the properties, but we never exploited anything. We never had that idea or that intent or that goal to extort money because it was a negotiation to settle the properties. It’s a very peculiar situation," he said.

Loon said he does not remember sending a text message to Chairman Bautista asking for P620 million.

"I was reviewing my texts with Chairman: it was him who texted me about P620 million. If I meet you personally, I will show you all the text messages. I never mentioned any amount in text," he told anchor Karmina Constantino.

He also denied dangling the possibility of Mrs. Bautista approaching President Rodrigo Duterte if the demand of P620 million was not met.

"I do not remember telling him anything. I just told him that his wife is considering bringing [it] to the attention of the President or the attention of higher authorities. I think that was the context of what was said," he said.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Sunday that Mrs. Bautista claimed she had discovered bank and real property documents, and several passbooks under her husband's name that were not included in his 2016 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Mrs. Bautista reportedly submitted an affidavit last week, alleging that her husband "might have had, or currently has, misdealing and corrupt practices while in government service."

The National Bureau of Investigation has been ordered to probe the issue and resolutions have been submitted in both houses of Congress seeking a similar investigation.