MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is keeping his distance from the tiff between Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista and his wife Patricia and the issue of possible ill-gotten wealth it has raised even as he admitted meeting the couple in Malacañang.
Patricia’s revelations about the supposed fortune amassed by her husband have prompted Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to order a probe by the National Bureau of Investigation while Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III also filed a resolution to investigate the Comelec chief.
“I’m not in the habit of prosecuting people especially from the other side of the fence … political fence … lalo na si (especially) Bautista because he was appointed by Noynoy,” Duterte told a press conference at the Palace, referring to his predecessor Benigno Aquino III.
“I do not want to be misconstrued,” he added.
“There will always be a case filed so I do not want to preempt what will happen there, either by the Ombudsman or by Congress because I do not have jurisdiction over the case … so I’ll just shut up,” he said.
At the same time, Duterte admitted he had Bautista summoned after Patricia met him in Malacañang and told him she wanted her husband impeached for his alleged hidden wealth.
Asked to explain why he called the Comelec chairman if, as he said, he wanted no part in the matter, Duterte said: “I was not meddling. I asked him to fix his quarrel with the wife. That’s the thing that I could do as a lawyer. At sinabi ko, ‘Tawagin mo ‘yan si Bautista kasi may nagrereklamo sa kanya’ (And I said, ‘Call that Bautista because someone has a complaint against him’).”
“When I was informed that he was here, I went out of my room … Sabi ko, ‘May reklamo ‘yang babae sa’yo’ (I said, ‘That woman has a complaint against you),” Duterte said. “Sabi ‘yung pera. Sabi ko (He said the money. I said), ‘No, no. Spare me. I do not want to hear ‘yang mga money-money (about the money) …”