Where is Andy Bautista?

Frankly, it was hard to imagine how Andy Bautista could end up being one of the most crooked men in the Aquino administration. Perhaps it was because he wrote a column. He was also dean of the Institute of Law at the Far Eastern University. The class valedictorian of the Ateneo Law School, he obtained a Masters of Law from Harvard. He looked so clean and competent that at one point in his life, Bautista was nominated to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

But deep inside, Bautista had a weakness: money. When opportunities appeared before him to receive bribes, he didn’t hesitate to grab the opportunity. He loved power because of the money it brought him.

A former Commissioner in the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) with whom he served when he was chairman told me that Bautista was corrupt. This PCGG commissioner said it was an open secret in the agency tasked to go after allegedly ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses that Bautista filched fabulous sums of money from public funds. That was the reason he and his co-Commissioners weren’t surprised to hear about Bautista’s billion-peso bank deposits as exposed by his estranged wife, Patricia.

It is a basic dictum in law that flight is an indication of guilt. Hence, the presumption that Bautista received huge bribes from Smartmatic and politicians who benefited from the cheating was strengthened when the erstwhile Comelec chairman resigned in the middle of an impeachment proceeding against him in the House of Representatives and fled the country. He had also been summoned by the Senate for an investigation into the alleged plunder he had committed.

Bautista is believed to have engineered the massive electronic cheating in the 2016 elections that lifted Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo past her rival, former Senator Bongbong Marcos, and win by a hairline. Presumably much of the money he had in those bank accounts came from the Liberal Party and other politicians. Some may have come from Smartmatic, too. That was a crime akin to treason. If we had the death penalty, this man should be hanged.

Only a few months ago, the Court of Appeals affirmed the findings of the National Privacy Commission that Bautista was responsible for data privacy breaches in the Comelec’s databanks between March 20 and 27, 2016. This reinforces that perception that Bautista was indeed behind the electronic fraud in the elections. The illegal intrusion into the Comelec’s databanks for its registered voters was the precursor for the cheating. Bautista needed voter registration data to carry out the cheating.

With the elections only 10 months away, many Filipinos can’t help but express apprehension that Bautista might still be able to pull out a second hat trick in the May 9, 2022 elections. Smartmatic is still the service provider for Comelec. We do not know how deep is the relationship between Bautista and Smartmatic.

Bautista has been sighted several times in the U.S. When his old boss, Noynoy Aquino died, Bautista tweeted this message:

Apparently, Bautista gave those words a different meaning. He took it to mean that he should do whatever was necessary to keep the Liberal Party in power, even if it meant he had to cheat. Unluckily for him, the votes for Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte was a tsunami that was impossible to reverse through electronic cheating. Bautista implemented Plan “B” — make Robredo win, and Franklin Drilon win as number one in the Senate.

As we come closer to the elections, we should badger the Department of Justice to bring back Bautista to make him answer for his crimes.

Bautista is a leech

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista is still fighting immense pressure for him to just step down from his post and face the unexplained wealth case before the Ombudsman.

What could be holding him back? I read the blog of ABS-CBN House reporter RG Cruz two days ago and he quoted Commissioner Arthur Lim that something was likely to happen “in the next few days”. Lim hinted at resignation or going on leave.

Is Bautista still hoping that a miracle will suddenly extinguish the conflagration that is engulfing him? His brother, Dr. Martin Bautista, isn’t helping him deal with the crisis. On the contrary, Dr. Bautista only doused aviation fuel on the issue as more exposes about his medical practice in Oklahoma raised more questions than answered.

It’s more likely Bautista is waiting for cues from his Liberal Party bosses. His departure from Comelec might pave the way for the discovery of evidence that indeed, massive cheating occured in the May 2016 elections.

Stop being a leech, Andy. You should have resigned last week yet. But it’s not too late.