MANILA - The issue that embroils Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista and his wife is more that simply a domestic issue that needed President Rodrigo Duterte's mediation, her lawyer said Monday.
Bautista's wife, Patricia, claimed Sunday that 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. Bautista denied her allegation and accused his estranged wife instead of attempting to extort money from him and having an affair.
The accusation came just days after she and Bautista met with Duterte, whom the Comelec chief said gave them marital advice.
Patricia's lawyer, Atty. Martin Loon, said they went to Duterte because the evidence they had concerns the entire country and not just the two of them.
"If you will look at the evidence closely, you will discover that this contains pieces of information that affect the security of the country and the integrity of one of the most important offices of the country, especially the office that deals with the democratic process, which is the election," he told ANC.
"We all felt, Mrs. Bautista felt that because of the President’s anti-corruption campaign and his commitment to good governance, I think he was the best person to be the judge whether these pieces of evidence meant something or not," he said.
Loon also revealed that the meeting was forged through "friends who wanted to help us solve the situation," and that after hearing what Patricia had to say, Duterte immediately ordered the chief of the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the matter.
The lawyer, however, insisted on keeping the identity of the one who brokered the meeting secret for now, stressing that it was not the main issue.
"I think at this point, it’s irrelevant. I think we have to focus on the evidence being presented because this is not a domestic issue. This is not an issue of who brokered the meeting. This is an issue about the integrity of a very high public office which Chairman Bautista holds," he said.
"Mrs. Bautista, when she engaged our firm in June of 2017, we thought this was just a domestic problem, but she mentioned something about the box that contained highly questionable financial statements relating to the chairman," he added.
Loon also underscored that their camp did not take a shortcut by approaching Duterte, stressing that they have also filed a case of violence against women and their children before the Taguig prosecutor.
Patricia's apprehension to go through "normal channels," said Loon, is rooted in Bautista's statements that "the judges, the prosecutors can be bought; that he knows the senators, the justices."
"He also claimed that he already went to the President to disclose all of these—but we found out that that was a lie. Chairman Bautista never disclosed this to the President in any prior meeting, but according to Mrs. Bautista, that’s what she’s been hearing," he said.
"We couldn’t believe that the President would condone such a thing, so I think that was what triggered Mrs. Bautista to go and report the incident to the President directly because that was what Chairman Bautista was saying," he added.