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Ex-Comelec chairman Bautista in Oklahoma City, snubs Senate panel, faces arrest

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IN OKLAHOMA CITY. Former Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista and brother Martin in Oklahoma City in this file photo.


PASAY CITY/OKLAHOMA CITY – Former Chairman Juan Andres Bautista of the Commission on Elections has snubbed a Senate panel investigating his alleged undisclosed assets and may have over extended his stay in Oklahoma City where his doctor brother and family reside.


Following his failure to appear before the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies after several invitations, its chairman, Senator Francis Escudero cited him for contempt and called for the issuance of an arrest order by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.


The move was taken by Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, after Bautista was cited in contempt of the committee due to his defiance in responding to its summons and air his side on the issue on his alleged undisclosed assets, first exposed by his estranged wife Patricia.


The Senate committee issued a subpoena for Bautista last January 23, directing him to appear on February 12 before the committee otherwise he will be held in contempt and arrested.


Pimentel, however, said it may be useless to issue such order as such warrant cannot be enforced by them if Bautista is indeed out of the country, possibly in Oklahoma City.


 It was the fourth public hearing on the issue hounding Bautista and a subpoena had been by the committee after extending two invitations to him.


Escudero, before suspending the hearing, directed his staff to prepare the corresponding papers requesting the Senate president to issue the warrant for Bautista’s arrest.


“Should he arrive at any time, he will be delivered to the Senate, so ordered,” he said at the hearing.


“Kung talagang wala siyang tinatago, wala siyang dapat katakutan. Kung wala siyang kinakatakutan, wala rin siyang dapat itago,” Escudero said.


Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia Paz Bautista, has alleged that her husband amassed nearly P1 billion in unexplained wealth. The former Comelec chairman also supposedly owns 35 bank accounts with the Luzon Development Bank containing a total balance of P329,220,962.


Bautista has said that the accounts claimed by his estranged wife were either closed or fake.


Pimentel said even if they issue an arrest warrant, it may not be enforced if Bautista will write a letter to the committee informing that he’s returning to the country and will submit himself to Senate probers immediately after.


Bautista, in an apparent last-minute attempt to dodge arrest, told Escudero in a letter dated Feb. 7, that he has not actually been in receipt on any invitation since he has been abroad since November last year. The letter was accompanied by a certification from a doctor with an Oklahoma City address.


“I understand from news reports that a subpoena has been issued because of my non-appearance in the hearing (last Jan. 23). In this regard, I respectfully ask that the subpoena be recalled since I never received the invitation,” Bautista said.


In explaining his absence, the former poll body executive said he has been out of the country in hope of exploring professional opportunities and seek treatment to some of his medical ailments.


Escudero, however, said such letter by Bautista is just a ruse and has no good faith in it.


“He asked for the subpoena to be recalled and to instead answer in writing. He is a former chairman of a constitutional commission; he has no legal and formal address here in the country. That is not normal,” the senator said.


“At the very least, he should have given us a forwarding address where we can communicate with him but so far he has not done that. That is the very opposite of what he had said in the past that he will squarely face any and all allegations lodged against him in any forum,” Escudero added.

Clearly, the senator said, Bautista is trying to stifle the proceedings.


“I have requested the Senate to issue a warrant for Chairman Bautista so he can be arrested anytime when he arrives in the country. The committee is compelled to do this after his obvious defiance of the Senate orders. Unless he expunges himself, and the only way he can is if he issues a waiver on bank secrecy together with his siblings who are his co-depositors,” Escudero said.


The committee has also invited Bautista’s sibling, Susan Afan and Martin Bautista, a doctor based in Oklahoma City, but the two were also a no-show.


Afan wrote the committee saying that she has prior commitments and that as a private citizen, she has no knowledge of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and begged to be excluded from the proceedings.


Escudero also did not give into her request as well as he instructed the committee secretary for the issuance of another invitation to her.


“Her excuse is not acceptable that she has nothing to do with this. If she does not confirm attendance, a subpoena henceforth be issued against Ms. Afan,” he said.


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