Patricia Paz Bautista, the estranged wife of Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said that her husband received at least P500,000 in referral fees from Smartmatic Corp. This is through Divina Law firm as per the commission sheet. The Chairman denies this by saying that before his election post, he’s already referring real-estate clients to Divina. It already has an existing relationship with Smartmatic. Bongbong Marcos also said that it’s better to investigate the matter than drawing up speculations. He might not want to get involved with the fiasco but he cannot ignore the fact that this allegation supports the first part of his election protest against Leni Robredo that involves the Comelec-Smartmatic anomalies.
Youtube video from; ABS-CBN News
[VIDEO]: Comelec chairman Andy Bautista refuted claims that he received a “referral fee” from DivinaLaw in respect to Smartmatic. He also said that when he became Comelec chairman in 2015, Smartmatic is already the technology provider for the elections.
The Chairman’s Defense
It is unclear when Chairman Bautista received the referral fees. He points out that Smartmatic has been the Comelec’s technology provider since 2010 or five years before he was appointed the chairman of the election body. DivinaLaw is just one of the many law firms engaged by Smartmatic, Bautista added. However, prior to his existing post, he was PCGG Chairman. That is still covered by the law that government officials must not receive favors that can jeopardize their responsibilities for the public.
Mrs. Bautista also said that her lawyers told her that Bautista could be liable for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Act. They could be grounds for impeachment. She explained that her findings might lead to a much bigger crime. It is not certain if she insinuates Marcos’ protest against Robredo but it is the hottest event right now on the matter.
Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque comments that Bautista’s admission for receiving such fees made him liable for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. He is a public official. Therefore, he is not allowed under the law to receive any gift or consideration from anybody who has an interest in his office, Roque said. The National Bureau of Investigation launches a probe into Bautista’s finances. It is not surprising that the commissions from Smartmatic cast doubts on all elections supervised by the Comelec chief.
Law on Evidence
It might be premature for Marcos to get involved in the allegations thrown at the Comelec Chair. Most evidence for his protest is already submitted to PET. Should the legal findings of the proceedings made against Bautista are confirmed positive, these can add as both physical and public evidence on the case. In paper or physical as per law that supports the public’s general interest. The recount will just be a formality.