From the moment Patricia Bautista held a press conference exposing her husband – Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Andres Bautista’s “unexplained hidden wealth” a week ago, the public has been transfixed by the development of the issue. Most people have been left guessing and speculating on which one of the two is telling the truth. However, the silence from certain sectors in Philippine society particularly the Liberal Party, its allies and supporters is deafening. Even a so-called “investigative journalists” don’t seem to have enough motivation to investigate the source of Bautista’s wealth. Their behaviour is hardly surprising though. Their “no comment” stance just confirms what some have suspected all along.
A lot of people have long speculated that the supposed non-partisan COMELEC Chairman Bautista is allied with the Liberal Party. Now that he is under scrutiny for alleged corruption, his Liberal Party mates are most likely feeling the heat as well. Indeed, this scandal is bigger than Andres Bautista and his wife Patricia. This could spell disaster for the Liberal Party. If prosecuted for illegally amassing wealth, prosecutors could uncover evidence of electoral fraud favouring the Liberal Party candidates in the 2016 — or even earlier — elections. Allegations of vote rigging was rife even during the 2010 Presidential Elections. There are people who insist that former President BS Aquino’s win was the result of vote rigging too.
Patricia Bautista’s message to the public is clear. When asked if she is aware of the implication of what she is doing, she replied that if people turn a blind eye to this revelation, everything they complain about like the horrendous traffic, instability of the economy, and unemployment among other ills that plague the country will mean nothing. After all, the people essentially lose their right to complain when, after their public servants neglect their duties yet again, they go on to elect the same public servants again and again. This is assuming that every election is clean. If there is evidence that the election was rigged to favour candidates the voters did not choose themselves, then the public should be outraged. But if they choose to shrug it off and pretend that vote rigging is okay, then they are throwing away their right to suffrage.
Since that is the case, the Philippines is no longer a democracy. It is being run by the mafia – those who manipulate the result of elections. It may even be possible that they sell the votes to the highest bidder with the help of electronic voting machine provider Smartmatic and COMELEC.
I’ve always said that the problem in the Philippines has less to do with the tyranny of the few, but more to do with the tyranny of the majority – those who give power to the few members of the elite. That statement is evident again with the behaviour of Filipinos who pretend that vote rigging did not happen in the previous elections even when blatant tampering was done in the middle of canvassing of votes in the 2016 Presidential Elections. Some people are in denial because they don’t want to burst their own bubble. They hold on to the belief that the Liberal Party is for the interests of the people because that has been the narrative the party’s allies in mainstream media have been telling us for more than 30 years. These people’s apathy and arrogance make them enemies of the state.
I don’t know how some people can continue deluding themselves even when Bautista is already starting to show signs of inconsistencies. We can’t even expect a statement from the faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University – Bautista’s alma mater and Liberal Party ally — to comment on his predicament since condemning his alleged corrupt activities will also reflect badly on the school. They will avoid putting their own in a bad light since it will highlight the fact that the school produces a lot of crooks.
Initially, Bautista said that his wife fabricated documents, but then he admits to owning several bank accounts in his subsequent statements in separate interviews with the media:
“People know this: that there were investments made by my family with Forex. This is a problem now, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this, but it was like pyramid scheme,” he said.
He added the Bautista family would answer the unexplained wealth allegations “in due time.
“It is true that our family and myself have deposits with Luzon Development Bank. As to the amount, I’m not sure because I said, these bankbooks were stolen,” Bautista told ANC’s Headstart.
Though the Comelec chief does not know if there were actually 32 passbooks, he explained that he had several passbooks because of the investments he had with his siblings and parents. “We had to demarcate who owns which.”
Bautista’s inconsistencies are very telling. It’s a sign that he could be lying. He is starting to falter. He doesn’t behave like a seasoned lawyer. Why would he even admit that he and his family were into pyramid schemes? He should know that pyramid schemes are illegal in the Philippines. He is behaving more like a suspect under duress. He probably feels like everything is blowing up in his face. He is certainly coming across like a loser since he did not take care of his wife and failed to pacify her when he had the chance.
The source of Bautista’s wealth is one thing – he may or may not be able to prove they are sourced legally, but it still doesn’t explain why he did not include them in his Statement of Assets Liability and Net worth (SALN). If a former Supreme Court Chief Justice was impeached for less than what Bautista has in his bank accounts, then Bautista deserves a similar fate or, perhaps even more fitting, jail time.
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