Investments and the PH electoral process

An investor puts his money where it will generate the best possible returns at the lowest possible risks. Investment is about making money grow. The world’s richest investors like Warren Buffet and Charles Munger carefully pick from an array of stocks, bonds, hedge funds, mutual funds and the like to make that happen.

But none of them, I am sure, will ever put their money in savings deposits in banks as investments. Savings deposits hardly earn interest income: almost all banks offer only 0.25% per annum interest on them, minus 20% withholding tax on interest earnngs. Bank of the Philippine Islands, Metrobank, Banco de Oro are among the banks I checked.

Because of this, the explanation of Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista that the several hundred million pesos in 32 savings accounts in a little known bank in Laguna are his family’s “investments” that he handles will simply crumble. It cannot be investments, for otherwise, he did his parents and siblings a grave disservice.

From the looks of it, that money is ill-gotten wealth. And the patterns revealed by his estranged wife — daily deposits of just a little less than P500,000 to keep within the threshold set by Central Bank and AMLA for red-flagging — would also indicate the element of money-laundering. It is prima facie evidence Bautista wanted to avoid detection for keeping huge bank deposits.

But the more serious implications of this explosive revelations by Mrs. Patricia Bautista is the possibility — more huge than slight — that the money came from bribes to the Comelec Chairman in exchange for manipulating the results of the May 9, 2016 elections.

This is the reason Senator Grace Poe supported the move initiated by Senate Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto for a Blue Ribbon Committee investigation into Bautista’s bank deposits and properties not included in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

The results of the elections have already been put into question with the electoral protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos against the allegedly spurious victory of Vice President Leni Robredo. Robredo, who only won by a little more than 200,000 votes, could have been a recipient of vote-counting machine manipulation. Another reason to doubt the results was the 18.6 million votes obtained by Senator Franklin Drilon to bring him to the number one slot, edging out the highly-popular Tito Sotto and Manny Pacquiao.

The very core of our democracy is at stake here. The Filipino people have a right to know if the money in those bank deposits were bribes Bautista received from the Liberal Party. If the deposits as revealed by Mrs. Bautista indeed took place in the months preceding the elections, then that should be sufficient to establish prima facie evidence. Congress should now look at shielding the electoral process from human intervention, especially from Comelec Commissioners themselves. How to do it? I don’t know. But this is the direction reforms should take.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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