Journal Online - Poe and Sotto are right - Bautista must be probed asap

8 August 2017

By Itchie Cabayan | Journal Online 

THE shocking revelations recently made by Patricia, the estranged wife of Comelec Chair Andres Bautista, have also inevitably brought out into the open some side issues which may have far-reaching effects, including the possibility that Chair Bautista may face impeachment if proven he used his position to gain wealth illegally and more importantly, putting the integrity of the last elections in grave question. Well, at least two senators believe so.

Senate committee on public information and mass media chair Senator Grace Poe for one, has voiced out her opinion that while there is no doubt in her mind that President Duterte had indeed won in the 2013 polls hands down as she in fact conceded and citing that the lead was wide, she expressed her belief that the results in other levels, like the local elections, may be questioned, especially in areas where the difference of the votes between the top contenders are very slim.

On the part of Senate majority leader Sen. Tito Sotto, he has stated that the information coming out ‘really casts a cloud of doubt in the 2016 elections… specially to those who are questioning the results.’ He also lamented that the recent public disclosures being made by Patricia came out while some rumors about the most recent elections have not died down.

In Sotto’s words, ‘marami na nga tayong nadidinig kung anu-ano tungkol du’n (2016 elections) tapos biglang may ganito.’

From my end, this brings to a mind a chance interview with Bautista at the NAIA terminal a day or two after the 2016 polls. He had just arrived from a domestic trip then when I asked if I could interview a litte. He said ‘shoot.’

I asked for his reaction to what happened during the canvassing of votes at the Rizal Coliseum in Manila, citing how it got unduly delayed with ‘no signal’ being cited as the reason by the board of canvassers then. The incident was so unbelievable I remember broadcaster Mike Enriquez questioning on air how this could happen in a place like Manila, supposedly the country’s capital city.

Anyway, Bautista rolled his eyes and nonchalantly told me ‘ganu’n ba? ’Di ko alam ’yun eh’ and then excused himself, saying he was in a hurry. I then saw him wave and say goodbye to Toby Tiangco before boarding his car. If they were together on a trip or just happened to be in the same flight, I don’t know.

What I particularly found quite surprising at that time was Bautista’s reaction. He did not seem surprised or upset that something like what I told him had happened. He also did not give even just the usual statement like, ‘I will have it investigated.’ Nothing.

Patricia, in an interview at the ANC, brought with her documents which Chair Bautista may have a lot of explaining to do. One of these is some sort of a list which showed what she suspects were questionable dealings with Smartmatic, whose credibility anyway was previously questioned by many. The said documents had columns, the first stated ‘lawyers’ with what appeared to be initials all the way down; the second colum had the words, ‘TOTAL PF’ below which were varying amounts; next was ‘DISCOUNTED’ and ‘PS RATE’ also with different amounts. Under the columns were the words SOA No.799 and the date, 1 Jan to 31, 2016.

I believe that given this alone, a full-blown inquiry is in order. A lot of questions need answers, including the possibility that some of those currently holding elective positions should not be there in the first place.

There is also of course, the issue of possible corruption and worse, plunder, on the part of no less than the man sitting at the helm of elections in this country in which the future of all Filipinos lie. There should be no room for forgiveness if it is proven that chair Bautista, indeed, compromised his position for personal gains.