COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista’s wife, Patricia, may find it difficult, if not impossible, to testify against the poll official.
That’s because even a beleaguered wife, during the marriage, is prohibited from testifying against her husband pursuant to the provisions of the Rules of Court.
“The wife is prohibited from testifying for or against without the consent of the affected spouse or until their marriage is dissolved or annulled,” retired Regional Trial Court judge Meinrado Paredes told SunStar Cebu yesterday.
Such prohibition is stated in Sec. 22, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, said Paredes, who is also a professor at the University of Cebu College of Law.
The marital disqualification rule states: “During their marriage, neither the husband nor the wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse, except in a civil case by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter’s direct descendants or ascendants.”
Paredes issued the statement when sought for his reaction on the controversy involving Bautista, whose wife accused him of amassing some P1 billion in undeclared wealth.
But Bautista, in a press conference last Monday, said he is “ready to face anything and everything.”
Patricia earlier disclosed that her husband may have acquired ill-gotten wealth through his “corrupt practices” while serving the government.
In an affidavit she submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), she said her husband has domestic and offshore accounts.
She also said that Bautista owns condominium units in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City and in San Francisco in the US, and all these, she claimed, were not declared in his 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
Paredes said that Patricia’s claims may not be used against Bautista pursuant to the rule forbidding her from testifying against the spouse.
Such principles are meant to “preserve the marriage relation as one of full confidence and affection.”
The reasons behind the rule are: 1) There is identity of interests between husband and wife; 2) If one were to testify for or against the other, there is consequent danger of perjury; 3) The policy of the law is to guard the security and confidences of private life, even at the risk of an occasional failure of justice, and to prevent domestic disunion and unhappiness.
However, Paredes said that one party may be exempted from the rule when a civil case is filed by the spouse against the wife or husband, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by the husband against her.