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She Said, He Said: Revelations and Responses By Tisha and Andy Bautista

This week, the country woke up to a new national spectacle. At its center, Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista and his wife, Tisha Bautista.
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The Philippine political stage is no different from telenovelas. Narratives are filled with gripping drama and complex plots, with interesting characters as stars. There are directors who influence publicity and characters who write their own stories as they compete to survive.

This week, the country woke up to a new national spectacle. At its center, Comelec Chairman Andres “Andy” Bautista, who was exposed by his estranged wife, Patricia “Tisha” C. Bautista, for allegedly amassing millions of pesos of unknown origin.

The Comelec Chairman, on the other hand, held a press conference at his mother-in-law's house. He responded by saying that he is a victim of infidelity and that "the accusations are not true," as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He also said that these documents "used as basis for her affidavit were stolen, altered then invented."

Plot Overview

According to Tisha, her husband Andy has accumulated wealth of up to one billion pesos. Andy declared in his 2016 statement of accounts, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) that he only had P175.3. 

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Among the assets Tisha claims are undeclared are 14 properties in the Philippines worth more than P300 million, and deposits in local and foreign bank accounts worth more than P336 million. These bank deposits and withdrawals were allegedly made in the past two years, when Andy was already chairing the election body.

According to Tisha’s affidavit, the bank transactions were made below the P500,000 threshold. In the Philippines, any banking transaction equal or above this threshold is mandatorily reported to the bank’s head office and to anti-money laundering authorities to prevent money laundering.

Who’s Who: The Characters

Andres “Andy” D. Bautista was born on March 28, 1964 (age 53). He married Tisha in 2000. They have four children. In 1993, Andy began practicing law at Castillo Laman Tan & Pantaleon in Manila. In the same year, he headed a consulting firm that provided consulting services for infrastructure financing and capital markets, among others.

In 1999, Andy became the dean of FEU’s Institute of Law, where he previously lectured in constitutional law. Under different administrations, he became a member of three constitutional reform commissions. He became CEO of the Kuok Group in the Philippines in 2006, which owns stakes at various investments such as Shangri-La hotels and resorts. In 2010, he headed the Philippine Commission on Good Governance, the independent body that is tasked with recovering ill-gotten wealth accumulated during the Marcos administration.

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After the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012, Andy became one of the nominees to become the next Chief Justice. He lost to Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. President Aquino recruited Andy in 2015 to head the Comelec, which he currently heads.

Patricia “Tisha” C. Bautista is an entrepreneur. For years, Tisha managed the ISDANCO Foundation, an NGO that promotes alternative learning through values formation and appreciation of Filipino culture. One of her projects was the Center for Aesthetic Studies, a TESDA-accredited school for Cosmetology. Graduates of this vocational institution have a chance to work at the prestigious Franck Provost beauty salon, which is also run and owned by Tisha.

Tisha authored two books, Maid Manual in 2009, and Yaya Manual in 2010. In them, she advised moms and homemakers on how to train and keep good household help.

Tisha has also dabbled in the supernatural. She professes to have a “third eye” that enables her to read people's auras and see angels. Tisha claims that a psychic connection brought Andy and her together.

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In September 2016, Tisha was noticeably absent when her mother, socialite Baby Cruz, married Danny Vasquez. Andy, attended the ceremony. 

Tisha says she is afraid for her own reputation. “I likewise fear that my name and reputation might be dragged and implicated in these (ill-gotten) properties should there be any eventual and formal investigation conducted against Andy,” says Tisha in her affidavit.

He Said, She Said

Tisha surprised the nation on Sunday when she sought the media and revealed possibly incriminating documents about the Comelec Chairman. She claimed Andy allegedly has 38 bank accounts including P1 billion worth of unexplained funds.

In defense, Andy says that he is a victim of infidelity. He says that in November 2016, Tisha allegedly took passbooks, ATM cards, and other documents from their home, which belonged to him and his family. He says since then, his wife has tried to extort money from him, as reported by Rappler. Andy adds that when Tisha realized that he was not going to cave in, she filed an affidavit.

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Motivations

We do not know how this drama is going to play out, but the plot continues to thicken.

What is the motivation for all this? In Tisha's case, perhaps she is just being honest. “If I am just after money, isn’t this the most inefficient way of doing it?” she told Karen Davila on ANC. True, there is sense in that. But there is also sense in the refuge of the courts, minus the publicity, which asks the question: Why now?

This second motivation may involve other political actors. Andy has said in recent interviews that Tisha has allowed herself to be “used to serve the political agenda of some opportunistic people.” These “opportunistic people” could be anyone.

Why is this issue erupting now, barely two months away from the October 23 Barangay Elections? Should we expect a vigorous move for Andy Bautista's removal from the Comelec?

Conclusion 

The issue at hand is a complicated one which should be viewed through a lens of calm sobriety. Domestic issues between the Bautistas should be a private topic we should not be concerned with. However, a potential betrayal of public trust becomes a matter of national concern, especially if it involves a very high-ranking government official. But at the moment, everything that has been said is so far only a bunch of allegations that need to hold water and stand their ground in legal and rational scrutiny. 

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