QUEZON City, Philippines (Eagle News)- – Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, expressed the need to conduct a probe the undeclared wealth and assets of Commission on Elections Chair Andres Bautista.
Escudero said that the Senate and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have expressed their interest to conduct a probe on the almost P1 billion that allegedly belonged to Bautista which his wife, Patricia, said were not declared his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
Patricia also revealed that her husband had several passbooks from two branches of the Luzon Development Bank (LDB), which she alleged had been used to hide his undeclared wealth.
“If the blue ribbon committee will proceed to investigate him, I could bring up the (bank-related) issues in the hearing. Pero kung hindi matutuloy yung hearing na yun, nagpa-plano rin yata si Sen. (Vicente) Sotto (III) na mag file ng separate resolution on these issues,” he said.
He said that the LDB must explain why it allowed Bautista to make daily deposits, as well as to maintain 30 bank accounts.
“Maraming katanungan doon. Una, bakit nga ba may 30 bank account ang isang tao? Bakit ang mga deposito ay mababa sa P500,000, kada deposito at na-report ba iyan sa AMLC?” Escudero said in a radio interview.
“Those are the questions that I want to ask Bautista and the LDB,” Escudero said.
Escudero said that he will look into the small bank accounts used by corrupt government officials in order to hide their undeclared wealth, which are possibly ill-gotten.
“Besides exercising due diligence, banks should be more cautious in dealing with so-called prominent individuals, especially those “politically-exposed person” (PEP) or those in the government or in the field of politics. Why? Because the money may have come from corrupt practices and not legitimate because of the huge amount of money that is coursed through the government. It is only right that we can count on banks in looking after public funds,” he said.
Based on his 2016 SALN, Bautista is the richest head of the five constitutional commissions in the government with a net worth of P176.3 million, up by P6 million from his 2015 net worth of P170.3 million.