MANILA, Aug. 8 — An election watchdog urged Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Juan Andres Bautista to take a leave of absence following allegations of having unexplained wealth worth PHP1 billion by his wife Patricia Paz.
“By taking a leave of absence, Bautista will not be able to use his position at the COMELEC to influence the outcome of the probe, which we maintain should not just be limited to the issue of ill-gotten wealth,” said Kontra Daya convener Danilo Arao in a statement.
“Transcending the seemingly salacious and scandalous, it is imperative that any investigation of Bautista include issues surrounding the conduct of the 2016 elections under Bautista’s watch, as in the case of the leakage of personal information of voters,” he further stated.
Arao believed that the allegation “is worth investigating, especially in the performance of his job not just at the COMELEC but also at the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).”
He added, “Much as the media and the public are tempted to look at other details of his personal life, it is our hope that we don’t lose sight of the bigger issue of alleged corruption, conflict of interest and abuse of power while in office.”
When asked if the poll body did not accede to the call, Arao said whatever the outcome of the probe will be questionable.
“The result of the probe would be put in question as Bautista will be vulnerable to accusations of interference. Of course, the COMELEC as an institution would suffer in terms of morale and whatever remains of its credibility, no thanks to how Bautista has mismanaged the 2016 polls,” he added.
Bautista already denied the allegation, saying he welcomes any investigation that will be conducted in connection with the claims of his former wife.