Settlement talks only between Bautista couple, Kapunan says

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 15 2017 10:50 PM

MANILA — Attorney Lorna Kapunan, legal adviser of Patricia Bautista, said Tuesday the negotiation for the divorce settlement was between her client and Patricia's estranged husband, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista.

Kapunan denied that any lawyer was involved in the settlement negotiation after the poll chief showed in an earlier "Headstart" interview a demand letter from her law firm asking for P620 million for Patricia.

"All of these chain of letters which we will produce with the NBI will show that No. 1, we were never involved in the settlement. It was really Andy and the brother; Chairman Bautista and the sister," she told ANC's Headstart.

"The demand letter came first because precisely we had wanted to flush out. She had said, what is not mine, let’s find out what is not mine. True enough, Divina Law answered and said those are stolen, those are not your passbooks, please return within 48 hours."

She also criticized Bautista for alleging that she fabricated the evidence being presented against him in Patricia's allegation of unexplained wealth. 

"They’re forgetting their narrative. The problem with lies is not only do they quarrel with the truth, they quarrel among themselves. When he said these were stolen, how can (he) at the same time say that I manufactured?" she said.

"If I manufactured, he shouldn’t give a hoot about these documents to show that I manufactured them," she added.

Bautista declined to comment on Kapunan's allegations and said issues should be settled in court.

"As I said before, let us settle these matters in court, not in the media," he said.

The documents, which Bautista said Patricia allegedly stole from their conjugal home, showed that the Comelec's chief's wealth could reach P1.2 billion, and Kapunan claimed this was the basis for their initial demand of P620 million because "under the law if it is completely conjugal, the spouse is entitled to half."

"Tisha said I want to settle this privately and so did Andy. I said, yes. Labas kami diyan, you talk. Every Friday, she and the brother or whoever else. We were not privy to that. Then the next Monday, she would say, this is what we talked about," said Kapunan.

The Bautista couple was at odds as to how much the settlement was, with Andres saying Patricia's camp asked for P620 million, and Patricia saying she only asked for P260 million.

The P260-million demand, broken down, was P170-million upfront payment to Patricia and P20 million more over time; and two condominium units worth P130 million for the kids and P40 million over time.

"How can that be extortion? This is not a figure from Tish. This was a figure mutually agreed upon and we have documents," said Kapunan.

"We were terminated in May and there were negotiations by them. We don’t know what happened after May, but before that, we had documented what Tish would tell us—here is the settlement discussion. We would say, he would also say, let us settle this before Christmas," she added.

The settlement did not push through, however, because of the conditions which Andres' camp set, said Kapunan.

She said Patricia was made to say that "she lied, that everything was fabricated, all her charges are not true" and that Kapunan only advised her to do so.

Another alleged condition set was that Kapunan lied and she would be disbarred. 

The other, which Kapunan claimed was "very telling," was that Patricia was to deny "everything on his sexual preferences."

"How can these conditions be in a settlement agreement if what you’re talking about are what you’re saying extortion. Hindi na nga extortion ito; it is a mutually agreed amount for the children," Kapunan alleged.

"Even the conjugal home, by law incidentally, under the Family Code, it should go to the spouse with whom the children stay with. She never lost custody of the children. She is the constant parent. In due time, we will mention this because we have filed a case for domestic violence," she added, explaining that the election chief subjected his wife to psychological, emotional, and economic violence.