MANILA - (2ND UPDATE) Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista fought back tears as he claimed on Wednesday that a "demolition job" was behind his estranged wife's allegation that he misdeclared his wealth.
The poll chief, in an interview on ANC's Headstart, answered point-by-point allegations allegations made by Patricia Bautista, whom he also accused of having an affair with a "soulmate."
"To me really, there is an orchestrated campaign against me, perhaps against Comelec, maybe against the elections," Bautista said.
"Ang puno’t dulo nito, kung meron siyang ebidensya laban sa akin, kung gusto niya, pumunta kami sa husgado," he said.
(What this all boils down to, if she has evidence against me, let's go to court.)
Bautista said bank documents in Patricia's possession were "stolen" from their home in November last year, when his wife locked him out of their condominium unit.
He said the financial records were not his alone, but also included those of his family. He said the Bautista family would answer the unexplained wealth allegations in a news conference soon.
He also showed a copy of an impeachment complaint "surreptitiously" sent to his relatives in June, months before Patricia's allegations came out.
"[Ito ay] talagang to pressure me na ‘Hoy pag hindi ka magbayad, pai-impeach kita.' Tama ba yung ganiyan? Ano ba talaga sila? Are they crusaders for what is good and right or is this just a money play?," he said.
(It was meant to pressure me that 'You have to pay or I will have you impeached.' Is that right? What are they, really? Are they crusaders for what is good and right or is this just a money play?)
Criminal cases of grave coercion, qualified theft and robbery, and extortion have been filed against Patricia, he said.
The poll chief showed a demand letter from his wife's former lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, asking for P620 million. The letter was dated Feb. 7, 2017.
He also showed to television cameras text messages on his phone, allegedly from Patricia's current lawyer, Martin Loon, pressing the claim.
Patricia told Headstart on Tuesday that she had asked for a P260-million settlement.
Bautista said he declared all properties that belonged to him in his SALN or statement of assets liabilities and net worth.
As "family treasurer," Bautista said he was named as "and/or" in some accounts.
"I did not lie... My SALN truly reflects the statement of assets liabilities and net worth on my part," he said.
He also described as "complete falsehood" Patricia's allegation that P500,000 was funneled to his Luzon Development Bank account everyday.
Checks from Smartmatic lawyer Nilo Divina, the poll chief said, were payment for properties that the lawyer bought from the Bautistas.
Bautista said cash envelopes found by his wife were not for "ghost employees." One of the payees, he said, was Howard Vitas a consultant of the Presidential Commission on Good Government in 2014, whom he also commissioned to refurbish the Comelec office.
"Itanong niyo na lang kay Mr. Vitas, natanggap mo ba ang iyong consultancy fee o hindi? Hindi ba ganoon mas madali? That’s what I was saying, they put two and two together. Point is it was just an envelope. This was in 2014," he said.
(Ask Mr. Vitas, have you received your consultancy fee or not? Isn't that easier?)
He also cast doubt on the authenticity of the cash being inside the envelopes from the beginning, saying they could be "planted."
The poll chief said he did not receive a commission from Smartmatic, the supplier of counting machines in the May 2016 elections.
"I can categorically tell you I have not received any single centavo from Smartmatic or from Atty. Divina in respect to Smartmatic," said Bautista.
Patricia presented on Tuesday, what she said "looks like a commission sheet" from Divina Law, which counts among its clients Smartmatic.
Bautista said there was nothing irregular about meeting with Smartmatic, which had supplied counting machines to the Comelec since 2010.
He also denied that there was a "secret meeting" between him and the Smartmatic executives in Washington DC in November last year, explaining that he only attended a global conference there.
"Talagang makikita mo na binabahiran nila ng pulitika because nga ang gusto nilang gawin ay sirain ang magandang halalan nangyari nung 2016," he said.
(You can really see that they are putting political color because they want to destroy the credibility of the 2016 elections.)
Asked if he would be willing to undergo impeachment trial over these allegations from his wife, Bautista said he would to "vindicate" himself, even if it would be "messy" because other people will be brought in.
"At this point in time, I can’t categorically answer your question. We’ll see how it works out and just pray to the good Lord that he will take care of my family and in the end, truth and justice will prevail."