“This is one domestic turbulence that shakes not only the Bautista household but the nation as well.”
-- News Sense, “Bautista case: wife vs. husband,” Aug. 8, 2017
PRESIDENT Duterte thinks the quarrel between Patricia Paz Cruz-Bautista and her estranged husband Andres Bautista, chairman of the Commission on Elections, is just a family quarrel. The president told him “to fix it.”
“Sanay ako dyan,” he said. As Davao City mayor for 22 years, that was his stock answer to feuding spouses. There would be lawsuits and as much as possible the mayor wouldn’t meddle.
As president though, he must know the national interest involved: impact of the alleged corruption on the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the position Andres held from 2010, and the Comelec, which he has headed since 2015.
Was the result of the 2016 elections, in which Duterte won, influenced? Speculative of course until it could be proved that part of the Andres wealth came from Duterte’s campaign fund. Even then, still a stretch: How much of that corruption changed the outcome of the presidential race? Even Patricia was tentative by saying that it was merely her impression: that’s how it looked, from what the documents “impressed” her.
More troubling, which brings a family quarrel to national stage, is the allegation that Andres received commissions from a law office which handled cases he had referred to it. The implication if those cases are related to elections or PCGG operations is staggering.
Then, of course, the core of the controversy: whether Andres used his public positions to enrich himself and hid them from his SALN, the sworn-to statements of assets, debts and net worth. Patricia says that is “the issue here, not the ransacking of her husbands’ files and taking away his personal documents, not even her alleged adultery.
While she hadn’t publicly denied it before, since the rumor broke out in 2013 when she dumped her husband, she now claims that she and business partner Alvin Lim, a former commercial model, were just friends. Alvin’s ex-girl friend, Margarita Fores, a chef and restaurateur, concocted the story, she said.
Adultery, hers or her husband’s, would explain why she has turned against the man who’s the father of their four sons (aged 8 to 16). That and the wish to share with his wealth, although Patricia says she’s asking only for one half of the “clean” money.
Whatever the reason for the split, the basic questions demanding answers are: Did Andres do what Patricia alleges as to how he piled up his wealth? Does he deserve to stay a day longer as Comelec chief?
Nuances such as whether the 2016 election was corrupted or Duterte should prosecute appointees of his predecessor must have prompted the president’s hands-off policy.
And solving the Bautistas domestic problem? Among the host of ills that Bautista’s “unreported” wealth has exposed, fixing their marriage is the least concern to the nation.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 10, 2017.
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