The chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero has sought for the arrest of former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista for once again not appearing at Monday’s Senate committee inquiry in relation to his possible violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Escudero said he requested the Senate to hold Bautista in contempt and arrest him anytime when he arrives in the country after his “obvious defiance of the Senate orders.” He added that Bautista clearly attempted to restrain the proceedings. The warrant of arrest has yet to be approved by Senate President Koko Pimentel.
“I have requested the Senate to issue a warrant for Chairman Bautista so he can be arrested anytime when he arrives in the country. The committee is compelled to do this after his obvious defiance of the Senate orders. Unless he expunges himself, and the only way he can is if he issues a waiver on bank secrecy together with his siblings who are his co-depositors,” the senator said.
On the other hand, Bautista in a letter to the committee, said that he did not receive an invitation to attend the proceedings because he had been out of the country since November 21 of last year, but said that he “will be pleased to answer in writing any appropriate questions that the Honorable Committee may have regarding the referenced topic.”
“I understand from news reports that a subpoena has been issued because of my non-appearance in the hearing. In this regard, I respectfully ask that the subpoena be recalled since I never received the invitation” part of his letter stated.
Escudero, then, called the letter of Bautista a “ruse” for the poll chief asked for the subpoena to recalled instead of answering in writing.
“He is a former chairman of a constitutional commission; he has no legal and formal address here in the country. That is not normal. At the very least, he should have given us a forwarding address where we can communicate with him but so far he has not done that. That is the very opposite of what he had said in the past that he will squarely face any and all allegations lodged against him in any forum,” Escudero said.
The Senator also challenged Bautista that if he has nothing to hide, he should execute a waiver.
“Kung di man niya kaya [If he would not able] to personally attend, he can talk to his siblings for all of them to execute a waiver and we will continue the proceedings without them,” the senator said.
The Senate probe stemmed from the accusations of Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia, that the ex-poll chief has unexplained wealth kept in his bank accounts that were not indicated in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN).