Bautista to face plunder rap after losing immunity: wife's lawyer

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2017 11:33 AM | Updated as of Oct 24 2017 08:27 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - A plunder case will be filed against resigned election chief Andres Bautista for allegedly amassing around P1.2 billion in ill-gotten wealth, the lawyer of his estranged wife said Tuesday.

The case being prepared by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will also include lawyer Nilo Divina and members of Bautista's family "who made possible stealing from the Filipino people at the very least P1.2 billion," said lawyer Lorna Kapunan.

"This may be the end for the House of Representatives, but this is (just) the beginning for (Bautista's wife) Patricia and for all of us who are helping to assist her in bringing out the plunder," Kapunan told reporters.

Kapunan said Bautista could no longer hide behind his immunity.

“We have leveled the playing field. He now cannot hide under the immunity of his office,” said Kapunan.

Patricia Bautista’s allegations formed part of the bases of the impeachment complaint against her husband.

He allegedly amassed around P1 billion in unexplained wealth. He was also accused of receiving “commissions” for referring clients to a law firm of his friend, Divina.

Bautista, however, dismissed the allegations as baseless and becoming "more ridiculous."

"I have always maintained that the accusations hurled against me and my family are factually baseless and legally malicious. And over time, the allegations of Atty. Kapunan are becoming more ridiculous," he said in a statement.

"They should just file their case in court and not try the case in media," he added.

Bautista also noted that the amount Kapunan alleged he had plundered is close to the initial P1.12 billion that his wife's camp allegedly demanded from him in December.

"That is actually the basis for a complaint of extortion that my family and I filed against them. The documents that were stolen from me and my family in my own home happened almost a year ago," he said.

The NBI is looking into bank documents submitted by Patricia Bautista for a possible case against her husband.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, the justice committee chairman, thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for his “swift and decisive” action on Bautista resignation.

The House of Representatives impeached Bautista even when he had already resigned, initially effective at the end of the year.

Umali said the committee would no longer need to craft the articles of impeachment for trial at the Senate as Bautista has already stepped down. 

“All is well that ends well,” Umali said. “It has ended well for the House of Representatives and also for the Senate.”