Manila Standard Today - Missing the point

10 August 2017

By Jojo Robles | Manila Standard Today 

First, the Yellows, who have inexplicably decided that they should circle the wagons around embattled Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista, wanted us to believe that the elections boss’ problems with his wife Patricia were the subject of a private marital dispute, unworthy of airing before the public. Then they started saying that this is really all about another man and another woman: former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo.

It seems to me that the Yellow sympathizers of Bautista—who really shouldn’t be backed by partisans of any camp, as head of a supposedly independent agency—will say anything about their new idol except what is staring them in the face: That Bautista stands accused by his own wife of amassing more than P1 billion less than halfway through his term as chief regulator of all elections.

The sensational tabloid-fodder marital dispute, which has all the elements of a Dynasty-like telenovela, is not nearly as big as the corruption issue. And the Marcos protest, regardless of its political implications, is just a diversionary ploy often resorted to by the Yellows when they are backed into a corner.

The Yellows can’t seem to get it through their heads that the wife of Bautista, a certified Aquino family admirer who was twice handpicked by no less than Noynoy Aquino himself to head up two important agencies, is accusing him of enriching himself in office. And then, according to Patricia, Bautista cannot even share some of the loot with his legal (if estranged) wife, who according to the law, deserves half of everything he has.

By the way, the Yellows, now that they have abandoned the “marital spat” position and moved on Bongbong-Leni, skipping the corruption issue entirely, still insist that Patricia is being greedy. How the Yellows can focus on this while ignoring the avarice of Bautista as alleged by his wife, who is only basing her claims for money on the loot that the chairman was supposed to have accumulated, only the Yellows can really explain.

There is greed enough to go around here, actually, but let’s not forget the original source. If Bautista had not so greedily built up a fortune that not even his wife knew about, would anyone really begrudge her demands for her share?

(Here it must be pointed out that all the nuns, women’s rights groups and civil society organizations that fell all over themselves defending Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros and, yes, Robredo, when they were supposedly being shamed and bullied, have not uttered a peep about Patricia and her fight against the powerful Comelec chairman—emphasis on “man.” What happened to the people behind #EveryWoman, is what I really want to know.)

Which leads us to the new Yellow defense of Bautista, which alleges that Marcos is behind the travails of the Comelec chairman, because the real goal is to unseat Robredo. This is truly a head-scratcher to me.

Bautista is no longer involved in the Marcos protest, which is now before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal—the Marcos protest will have no effect whatsoever on the legal process to remove Robredo.

Unless, of course, Bautista really did rig the 2016 elections in order to make Robredo win over Marcos. Because if he did, then the Yellows are right to be very afraid of any testimony that the Comelec chairman may give, if and when he is summoned before the PET.

If it’s true that Bautista was involved in election fraud (which also explains his elevation to billionaire status), then a lot of things will fall into place. Including the small matter of why the Yellows, who are nothing if not partisan, have decided to defend a government official who is supposed to be head of an independent, unbiased agency in charge of the elections.

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Senator Franklin Drilon has decided to withdraw his demand that the question of jurisdiction first be settled before Congress starts investigating the case of Chairman Bautista. All it took for Drilon to abandon his call was a reminder from two of his colleagues, Tito Sotto and Francis Escudero, that the Senate allowed a handful of its members to investigate Vice President Jejomar Binay for over a year.

How can Drilon’s suggestion for the Senate not to probe Bautista, on the ground that it may become biased when it converts itself into an impeachment court, hold water when Drilon (who was Senate president at the time) let Binay get the third-degree there, even if the vice president is also an impeachable official like Bautista? And, as I wrote yesterday, how can Drilon even pretend to be an impartial senator-judge when everyone knows how he started the impeachment of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona through a speech in the Senate?

There was no other way for Drilon but to beat a hasty retreat. Even if he may be borderline correct by saying that the Senate must not be biased either way against an official that may come before them in an impeachment trial, he is the last person who should make that call.