Comelec chair's wife provisionally under gov't protection

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Patricia "Tish" Bautista seeks government protection.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) — The estranged wife of poll body chief Andres Bautista has been given provisional admission into the government's witness protection program (WPP), according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Friday.

"As the Chief Implementor of  the government's Witness Protection Program, I have signed the Certificate of Provisional Admission of Patricia Paz Cruz-Bautista into the WPP," Aguirre said in a statement.

The Bautista couple had been in recent headlines after the wife accused her husband of amassing unexplained wealth, which the latter denied.

Related: Comelec Chair Andy Bautista files criminal cases against estranged wife

Aguirre said the provisional admission of Mrs. Bautista was made in consideration of her safety and security as a potential witness -- pursuant to Article III, sections 1 to 3 of the law and Article V, Section 2 of the 2012 Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 6981 or the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program.

Related: Lawyer of Comelec chief's wife denies extortion

The Justice Secretary said Mrs. Bautista came to his office "freely and voluntarily," accompanied by her lawyers, to seek her admission to the government protection program.

However, Aguirre clarified that before being provided "with actual protection, security and/or benefit" under the WPP, Mrs. Bautista "must execute a memorandum of agreement."