NBI to tap AMLC, PCGG in Bautista probe

Posted on August 10, 2017

JUSTICE SECRETARY Vitaliano N. Aguirre II on Wednesday said the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) ongoing probe on the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres D. Bautista will involve the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

“That is included in my directive, AMLC and some PCGG information about some anomalies,” said Mr. Aguirre in mixed English and Filipino during an ambush interview with reporters.

Asked if the DoJ gave a deadline for the NBI to submit its report, Justice Undersecretary Erickson H. Balmes said in a text message that the DoJ “will give the NBI enough time to do their job thoroughly.”

He added, however, that the Office of the Justice Secretary will make a follow-up on the status of the probe one week from the issuance of the order, which would be on Monday, Aug. 14.

Mr. Aguirre said that aside from possible violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the NBI is also looking into graft and corrupt allegations. He earlier said that the results of the NBI probe may serve as evidence should an impeachment complaint be filed against Mr. Bautista.

The Comelec head has been accused by his estranged wife, Patricia Paz Bautista, of having “about P1 billion” in unexplained wealth that were not declared in his submitted Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN).

Mr. Bautista headed the PCGG, the government body tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the family of late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, in 2010. In 2013, he was appointed by then President Benigno S.C. Aquino III to head the Comelec.

Ms. Bautista claimed that the Comelec chair has several accounts with various banks -- including Luzon Development Bank (LDB), Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), and Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) -- as well as foreign investments and properties, local real estate assets, and several checks and commission sheets from Divina Law, where Mr. Bautista practiced law before engaging in public service.

“A mathematical computation of all these amounts shows that [Mr. Bautista] did not declare in his 2016 SALN all of these stated amount and actually left out a substantial portion thereof,” Ms. Bautista said in her affidavit.

Mr. Bautista has strongly denied the allegations, which he described as an extortion attempt and politically motivated. -- Kristine Joy V. Patag