Lawyer of Comelec chief's wife denies extortion attempt or demand for P620 million

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — A lawyer for the wife of Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista denied on Tuesday claims that his client attempted to extort hundreds of millions of pesos from Bautista.

Martin Loon, lawyer for Patricia Bautista, the estranged wife of the Comelec chief said Bautista's claim that his client wants ₱620 million is "preposterous."

"That accusation of extortion is very preposterous," Loon told CNN Philippines Balitaan.

"When I was reviewing the text messages last night, the 620 million (peso) figure came from the text of chairman Andy," Loon added, referring to the Comelec chairman.

The lawyer quoted Bautista as saying that he did not have that kind of money.

" Ang sabi nya...' Correct me if I'm wrong Martin. But the speeding ticket you have been referring to is at least 620 million, a world record for a ticket. I don't have that money,'" Loon recounted Bautista as telling him.

The lawyer replied saying " Sir, l let me verify please with your wife regarding the exact figure."

Comelec chairman Bautista earlier claimed Patricia wanted a P620-million settlement money to end their 17-year marriage.

"Itong 620 (million pesos) came from her lawyer, Martin Loon," Bautista said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Monday.

Not P620 million, but P260 million

But Loon came to his client's defense, clarifying that Patricia only wanted P260 million of the money from assets that were considered clean and not part of the unexplained wealth.

"Ang habol lang ni Mrs. Bautista ma'am ay 'yung half po ng malinis na pera, 'yung malinis na assets nu'ng kanyang pamilya at hindi namin alam which is malinis and which is hindi," Loon said.

[Translation: What Mrs. Bautista is after is half of the clean money, the clean assets of her family and we don't know which is clean and which is not.]

The Comelec chief claims his wife's demands ballooned when Loon came into the picture.

"Specifically the way it was presented was she wanted 200 (million pesos) for her, 75 (million pesos) each for the children plus the two units which is 120 (million pesos) so thats where the 620 (million pesos) came from," Bautista said.

Loon expressed surprise at the P620-million figure, saying that the P260-million that his client wanted was negotiated in good faith and would go to trust funds for the couple's four sons.

"Sinabi kanina ni Mrs Bautista... she was asking for 260 (million pesos) pero hindi ma'am para sa kanya. Majority of the funds, I think 70 percent of the funds ma'am would go directly to the trust fund of their children at hindi kay Mrs. Bautista," Loon said.

[Translation: Mrs. Bautista earlier said...she was asking for 260 (million pesos) but this isn't for her."]

"Why is he now saying that he's being extorted and all that when he knew from the start, in good faith, that a big portion of the funds would go to the children," Loon said.

Bautista earlier said it was also Loon who told him Patricia will bring the matter to President Rodrigo Duterte if he failed to shell out the amount of P620 million that she was asking for.

"'If you do not settle, she will be going to Duterte,'" Bautista recounted, adding "I have the text."

In the Monday interview, Bautista says the settlement figure they initially agreed on was lower.

The couple were about to sign an agreement that would give her P70 million, and another P20 million after three years, for a total of P90 million.

"In the end, I think that document should be brought out, which I plan to do what we had agreed upon," the Comelec chief said.

CNN Philippines' correspondent AC Nicholls contributed to this report