February 18, 2018, 5:59 am
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Bautista arrest sought

THE Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies yesterday cited in contempt former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Andres Bautista for repeatedly ignoring invitations and subpoena to appear in a public hearing on his alleged multi-billion bank accounts.

Committee chair Sen. Francis Escudero asked the Senate leadership to order the arrest of Bautista, who is allegedly out of the country.

“I have requested the Senate to issue a warrant for Chairman Bautista so he can be arrested anytime when he arrives in the country. The committee is compelled to do this after his obvious defiance of the Senate orders. Unless he expunges himself, and the only way he can is if he issues a waiver on bank secrecy together with his siblings who are his co-depositors,” he said.

The committee issued a subpoena to Bautista last week. 

Bautista wrote to the committee saying he did not receive any invitation because he had been out of the country since Nov. 21.

“In this regard, I respectfully ask that the subpoena be recalled since I never received the invitation,” the letter read.

Bautista told the committee that he “will be pleased to answer in writing any appropriate questions that the Honorable Committee may have regarding the referenced topic.”

“That letter for me is a ruse. There is no good faith in it. He asked for the subpoena to be recalled and to instead answer in writing. He is a former chairman of a constitutional commission; he has no legal and formal address here in the country. That is not normal. At the very least, he should have given us a forwarding address where we can communicate with him but so far he has not done that. That is the very opposite of what he had said in the past that he will squarely face any and all allegations lodged against him in any forum,” Escudero said.

Escudero also expressed doubt on Bautista’s claim that he is out of the country.

Citing records of the Bureau of Immigration, Escudero said Bautista left the country on Oct. 28, 2017 and arrived from Singapore on Nov. 1, 2017.

Bautista claimed he has been out of the country since Nov. 21, 2017.

Escudero said Bautista will be arrested upon his arrival in the country, and should be delivered to the Senate.

Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia Paz Bautista, has alleged that her husband amassed nearly P1 billion in unexplained wealth. 

The Comelec chair also supposedly owns 35 bank accounts with the Luzon Development Bank containing a total balance of P329,220,962.

Bautista has said the accounts claimed by his estranged wife were either closed or fake.

Escudero said Bautista, and two of his siblings who own joint accounts at the Luzon Development Bank (LDB), can execute waivers if they do not want to participate in the Senate probe.

Bautista’s sister, Susan Afan, who also snubbed the subpoena, has argued that she is a private citizen and has nothing to do with the accounts.

“If they don’t want to sign, that’s okay with me. But they should attend this investigation, and they can, face to face, claim their rights against self-incrimination and claim their rights of bank secrecy law. They cannot do so in absentia and via a letter,” Escudero said.

“They were so brave in saying that they will face the issues anywhere and anytime. Now that the time of reckoning has arrived, they are all abroad and are all claiming to be private citizens,” he said.

He challenged Bautista to personally attend the hearings or, talk to his siblings for all of them to execute a waiver.
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