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Ombudsman looks into Bautista’s ill-gotten wealth allegations

/ 05:07 PM September 18, 2017

Comelec chairman Andres Bautista delivers a statement at a news briefing at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila on Monday, August 7, 2017. INQUIRER / Grig C. Montegrande

The Office of the Ombudsman has launched a fact-finding investigation into the ill-gotten wealth allegations hurled against Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista by his own estranged wife.

A highly-placed Ombudsman source told reporters that wife Patricia Paz Bautista went to the office on Friday after being subpoenaed by the Field Investigation Office. She was accompanied by lawyer Lorna Kapunan.

The fact-finding investigation—equivalent to the evidence-gathering stage—would zero in on Bautista’s alleged unlawful wealth and violations of asset disclosure rules.

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Patricia’s lawyer Lorna Kapunan confirmed the development: “She was subpoenaed by the OMB in line with its fact finding investigation and out of respect to the OMB, we brought our client.”

She said documents submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation and the House of Representatives would be given to the Ombudsman too.

“Their investigation has already started. What was agreed upon last Friday is to set hearings two weeks from now, simultaneous with the hearings to be conducted by the House of Representatives,” she said.

But, House justice committee chair Rep. Reynaldo Umali also on Monday said the impeachment complaint against Bautista may likely be dismissed due to insufficiency in form and substance.

“The committee will have to be consistent, subject to final collegial action/approval thereon,” Umali told reporters.

One of the two complaints filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, which was filed by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez and Vanguard of the Philippines Constitution, Inc., president Eligio Mallari, was already dismissed on Wednesday due to flawed verification.

Umali said the same fate might befall the complaint filed against Bautista by Negros Oriental 1st Dist. Rep. Jacinto Paras.

It may be recalled that during the Wednesday hearing on the Sereno complaints, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas observed the verification forms of the VACC-Vanguard and Paras complaints were similar.

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“You copied the verification form of the VACC-Vanguard complaint. I know because I’ve read it,” Fariñas told Bautista impeachment endorser, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque.

Should the complaint against Bautista fail to hurdle the justice committee’s sufficiency test, he would be spared from another impeachment attempt until Sept. 7, 2018, or a period of one year from the date the House plenary referred the complaints to the committee.

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TAGS: Andres Bautista, Comelec, Ombudsman, Philippine news updates
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