Duterte keeps distance from Comelec chief’s row

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 07 2017 08:24 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte and Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista. Composite Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he does not want to meddle in the controversy involving Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista’s allegedly unexplained wealth.

Duterte said he does not want to “preempt” any case that may be filed against Bautista, an impeachable officer, by issuing statements about the cause célèbre. 

“I don’t have jurisdiction over the case. HIndi naman ako ang mag-imbestiga. I’m not a congressman or senator when it becomes an impeachment case,” Duterte said in a news conference.

Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia, has accused the poll chief of amassing P1 billion in unexplained wealth. 

She claimed she 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).

She reportedly submitted an affidavit last week to the National Bureau of Investigation, alleging that Bautista "might have had, or currently has, misdealing and corrupt practices while in government service."

Bautista has denied his wife’s allegation, noting that he earned a good amount of money practicing law. He said the allegation was a mere “money play” by Patricia, who he said is extorting money from him.

While Duterte sought to distance himself from the controversy involving the Comelec chief, he admitted to hosting the estranged couple and their immediate relatives at the Palace two days after the State of the Nation Address. 

The President said he only advised the two to fix their marital issues.

The Bautistas have been living separately for four years now. Bautista also claimed Patricia’s extra-marital affairs triggered their separation.

The President confirmed Patricia’s claim that she met him on July 26 to discuss the case she intends to file against her husband.

“Gusto nila ipaalam na mayroon silang ipa-file na kaso kasi nga the integrity of the entire elections may be put into [question],” Duterte said.

Several senators have voiced concern that the 2016 elections, wherein Duterte won the presidential race, could have been compromised because of the poll chief’s alleged illegal activities.

The President, however, shrugged off the effect that the controversy could have in his election victory.