Aguirre orders NBI to probe Comelec head’s ‘undeclared wealth’

MANILA� Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday order the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista’s alleged failure to declare PHP1 billion of his wealth.

Aguirre directed NBI Director Dante Gierran to conduct a probe and case build-up based on the allegations of Bautista’s wife Patricia Paz.

“The NBI, through its Director, is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct investigation and case build-up over the alleged failure to disclose pertinent information required in the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of Chairperson Andres D. Bautista contained in the affidavit of Mrs. Patricia Paz Bautista including possible determination of violation of Anti-Money Laundering Law and other related laws,” read the order signed by Aguirre.

Bautista can be charged with criminal cases only after removal from office through impeachment.

“The NBI may conduct any investigation of any government official, regardless of whether they are impeachable or not. Being charged is different from being investigated. You could use the investigation to support the impeachment charges,” Aguirre explained further.

Aguirre required the NBI to submit a monthly report on any updates of its investigation.

The allegation against Bautista came after his wife met with President Duterte and executed an affidavit, which was then forwarded to the NBI.

In her affidavit, Patricia, said she has discovered a number of assets that were not listed in his SALN.

She said she was disclosing certain information and documents that would show that Andy (Bautista’s nickname) might have had, or currently has, misdealing and corrupt practices while in government service.

The Comelec chief already denied the allegation, stressing it could be a part of extortion by his estranged wife, who he revealed has asked for a PHP620-million settlement.

Bautista declared a net worth of PHP176.3 million in his SALN.

Source: Philippine News Agency