A friend asked me recently what I advice I could give him if he joined government. I said, whatever are your claimed assets in your proposed SALN (Statement of Assets and Liabilities) are, double the amount.
Even if my friend, Andy Bautista, the chairman of the Commission on Elections, had heeded that advice, it would not have served him well.
Andy, an Ateneo-educated lawyer who claims to be a bar topnotcher, declared a networth of just P176.3 million in his 2016 SALN. Per his estranged wife, Patricia, 47, Andy has assets of anywhere from P1 billion to P1.3 billion.
In a court of law, and in the court of public opinion, Patricia is a very credible witness.
She has the crucial pieces of evidence—bank passbooks (32 in just one bank with total deposits of P300 million and with transactions of less than P500,000 each, the money laundering threshold); records of investments here and abroad, titles to condos and other properties, and even a “commission sheet” from the Divina Law office that is linked to Smartmatic, the Venezuelan company that provided the software and the counting machines and managed the Automated Election Sytems for the 2016 presidential elections.
The implication, and there is no proof of this yet, is that Andy Bautista cried all the way to the bank/s before and after the 2016 elections.
According to Glenn Chong, a former congressman from Biliran, Leyte and who has documented how the May 2016 election was stolen, four things were wrong with the Automated Election System: One, Comelec violated the law; two, Smartmatic tampered with the system; three, Smartmatic monopolized all the contracts; and four, the entire system was not secure.
The law (RA 9369) required the review and certification of the source code. The entire election results transmission system, including all the servers, switches, routers, and other computers were not subject to source code review. The Transparency Server and Central Server were not subjected to source code review. This explains the “enye” mystery in the names of Señeres, Osmeña and Napeñas (which the computer reflected as Se?enres, Osme?na, and Nape?nas, respectively) which gave an excuse to that foreigner to reprogram or access, by remote control, the computers (the Queue Server) on the night of Election Day, May 9, 2016.
The Queue Server acted like a funnel whereby all transmitted results from all 92,509 vote counting machines were made to pass through before being transmitted to the central canvassing system. The Justice department thinks this is a case of cybercrime under RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act).
It was the time when Vice Presidential Candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who was leading by a million votes over Leni Robredo in the early to late evening count, suddenly lost to the latter by early morning after election day, May 10.
Smartmatic had contracts to supply and distribute the voting machines, to transmit electronically election results (for P558 million), and for the National Technical Support Center (a P122.7-million contract).
According to ABS-CBN, Kabayan Party-List Rep. Harry Roque claimed that among the documents in Patricia’s possession were vouchers from Smartmatic, the private contractor that supplied the automated election system for the 2010, 2013 and 2016 national elections.
Andy Bautista, citing local and international election watchdogs, insists the 2016 elections “were the cleanest and the best managed in Philippine history.” Also, “Wala po akong tinanggap na komisyon, kahit na isang kusing tungkol sa isang halalan. Totoo po iyun—wala. [I did not receive any commission, not even a single penny from the elections. That is the truth —I accepted nothing],” he said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News.
Andy decries the politicization of what is basically a marital dispute. On July 26, 2017, President Duterte tried to play marriage counselor for three hours at the presidential palace.
Mrs. Bautista sought and got an audience with the President who dutifully lent his ears. After hearing Patricia, he summoned Andy, and unknown to the Comelec chief that his wife was just in the next room, was told to relate his side of the story. His claim: Patricia is having an affair, wants out of the marriage, and wants half of his legitimate income over the years. Duterte tried to work out a formula to which the quarrelling factions initially agreed. Someone balked, however. Andy cried ransom. Patricia felt she was being accused of extortion. So no deal. Thus, Duterte’s first-ever recorded professional attempt at marriage counseling failed.
Even assuming Andy didn’t collect commissions from the Smartmatic contracts, his salary as a government official (P198,000 monthly or P2.57 million a year, including 13th month bonus) would not be able to account for his assets, liquid and solid, both as declared in his SALN and as alleged by his wife of 17 years (a minimum of about P600 million and upwards of P1 billion).
Ever the wily lawyer, the President said he is hands-off in L’ Affaire Patricia, but his justice secretary, Vit Aguirre, has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe Chairman Bautista. They simply are following the money trail. If Andy is culpable, he could be impeached, or forced to resign, which means Duterte gets a Comelec chair he wants. If the attempt to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno succeeds, Duterte will also get the SC chief he wants. As President of six years, Duterte will name no less than 11 SC justices.
That will make him one of the most powerful presidents of the Philippines.