Comelec Chair Andy Bautista files criminal cases against estranged wife

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 9) — Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista has filed extortion, robbery, and grave coercion cases against his estranged wife before the Taguig City prosecutor's office, he confirmed on Wednesday.

Bautista refused to name all the cases he filed against his wife Patricia "Tish" Bautista, and instead directed the media to get a copy of the public documents.

Bautista on Monday lashed back at Patricia, describing her accusation that he has amassed unexplained wealth as blackmail and an attempt to squeeze money out of him.

The couple were in talks to end their 17-year marriage amicably but these bogged down because she wanted more money than he could afford, he said.

Bautista said his estranged wife asked for P620 million and several properties for settlement.

Patricia's camp alleged that Bautista's net worth is at P1.2 billion, contrary to his declared net worth of P176.3 million in his 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), a document government officials are required to submit.

Patricia's legal adviser and spokesperson Lorna Kapunan on Wednesday detailed the demand for P620 million.

"We totaled everything we saw. The properties were 300,000, bank accounts were 880, shares of stock were 338 million, pension plan was 22 million, loss given are 51, a total of 1.299668 divided by two. Do the math, that's 620," she told CNN Philippines.

Kapunan, who was formerly Patricia's legal counsel, provided CNN Philippines the demand letter from her law firm addressed to Bautista.

"Our client (Patricia) wants a dissolution of the absolute community of properties," the letter dated February 7, 2017 read.

According to the letter, P200 million and condominium units were asked for the first installment. Another P200 million was requested for the "irrevocable trust fund for children," which was to be paid upon the filing of their divorce papers in Hong Kong in February. The final installment of P100 million was supposed to be paid upon the issuance of the divorce decree.

 

The P620 million Kapunan cited differs from the claim of another one of Patricia's lawyers, Martin Loon. Loon on Tuesday said his client only wanted P260 million of the money from assets that were considered clean.

Related: Legal counsel says Patricia Bautista asked for P260 million, not P620 million

Bautista dismissed Kapunan's claims he is worth P1.2 billion.

Alleged robbery

Bautista has also accused his wife of "ransacking" his locked safe in November 2016 when he was away. He said she stole cash, gift certificates, ATM cards, and other financial documents in November 2016 - all the items belonged to him and his family, he said. Some have since been embellished by his wife's lawyers, he added.

Patricia's legal adviser and spokesperson Lorna Kapunan told CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday Bautista cannot file robbery charges because the cash and documents she retrieved at their home were conjugal property.

"This is conjugal property. This is presumed to be conjugal property... Did she steal them? No. How can you steal something that belongs to you as well? These are conjugal. They're kept in a conjugal safe, they were found in the conjugal study room, they were found in the conjugal home, apartment," she said.

Kapunan added, "Besides, this happened sometime in October. If they were really stolen, ba't hindi niya kinuha ulit? Naghintay pa siya? What was he doing? Bargaining?"

Bautista reiterated it was a crime because his wife forcefully took the items from his safe.

"Ito ay ninakaw galing sa isang safe na nakakandado at pwersahang binuksan. Maliwanag naman yata ang jurisprudence ng ating Korte Suprema tungkol sa isyung 'yan. Hayaan na natin ang korte maghusga," he told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: It was stolen from a locked safe and forcefully opened. This is clearly within the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. Let the court decide.]

Bautista earlier said when he asked his wife if she consulted with her counsel before taking the items, she responded that her counsel had advised her to proceed.

"This was a blatant violation of my right to privacy," he said.

He also alleged Kapunan was the one who ordered Patricia to retrieve the documents.

"Siya ang may pakana. Siya nagtulak sa aking asawa na nakawin ang mga dokumento," he said.

[Translation: She initiated this. She influenced my wife to steal the documents.]

 

Patricia, in her August 1 sworn affidavit to the National Bureau of Investigation, accused her husband of amassing over P335 million pesos in bank accounts and real estate which he failed to disclose in his 2016 Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SALN).  In her affidavit, she said the Comelec official acquired all these assets through "misleading and corrupt practices while in office."

This story was updated on August 10 to include the demand letter presented by Atty. Lorna Kapunan.

CNN Philippines correspondent AC Nicholls, digital producer Lara Tan contributed to this report.