Allow me to preface this piece by stating that I am the first cousin of Patricia Bautista, the estranged wife of Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chief Andres Bautista. Although we are cousins, Patricia and I have not been in touch for several years now although this is not due to any acrimony between us. As fate would have it, we simply drifted apart over the years as can unfortunately happen to familial relations, particularly when they have resided half a world away from each other for most of their lives.
The fact that Patricia and I are related as first cousins could cause some to question the objectivity of what I have written below. Indeed, some could mistake me for being prejudiced by my blood connection to Patricia for I express views that I will admit, are sympathetic to her and critical of her husband. All I can say to that is, each reader will have to decide for themselves how much they are willing to take to heart and mind from what I have written. If readers cast doubt on my words because of my relation to Patricia Bautista then let that be their conclusion.
But I happen to believe that everything I have written here has suffered the wrath of my desire to always speak truth to power. The ideal reader should look for reason and logic in my comments and observations and not for glaring lapses of sentimentality for a beleaguered relation. For what it’s worth, I am supporting Patricia’s audacious move as something that is most certainly in the best interests of the Filipino nation.
I have to say that I'm not entirely surprised by the revelations of alleged corruption on the part of Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista. Rumors of his suspected financial malpractice—not to mention the hearsay on what has been described to me as his “compulsive” marital infidelities—have made the rounds over the past few years.
But merely discussing and spreading the rumors about Andres amounted to not much more than the dissemination of unsubstantiated tsimis. In other words, it was always intriguing to talk about the corruption and infidelity speculation, but there was never anything resembling hard evidence to prove either one. That is until now, what with the stunning discovery of suspicious financial documents by Andres’s wife, Patricia (Tisha), in their conjugal home.
Upon hearing the jaw-dropping news, I communicated my support to Tisha by way of Facebook. I told her that I was behind her one-hundred percent in coming forth in front of the media. In the presence of her interviewers, Tisha appeared composed and persuasive enough to convincingly raise the specter of her husband’s financial malfeasance.
Conversely, I knew her skeptics would question Tisha’s motives as they called to mind how tangled and contentious her marriage settlement negotiations with Andy had gotten. Some thought Tisha’s gambit to be a maneuver to extract a fortune from Andy who claimed he had no such fortune. This is an oversimplification in light of everything that has happened.
Whatever her motives were, Tisha did the right thing. She put her well-being, and conceivably her physical safety, on the line by verbally highlighting glaring details of her husband’s purportedly illicit activity. Tisha’s decision goes to show that what I believe is Andy Bautista’s arrogance, perhaps as much as the corruption allegations now besetting him, is what has him in hot water right now. It is a good bet that he never expected his outwardly soft-spoken and mild-mannered wife to rat him out.
Ironically, Andy’s smugness in regards to what he expected of his wife has made all the difference in upending and potentially destroying his professional life and his individual freedom.
One might surmise this arrogance stems from what could be an old-school Filipino attitude on the part of Andy, an attitude about marriage that bestows upon the husband the carte blanche to engage in any sort of sordid escapade he desires while the wife is consigned to the position of the silent, acquiescent bystander.
Having met and conversed with Andy a few times in the past, I was always struck by what I perceived to be his paradoxical disposition: he never failed to display an easy, down-to-earth temperament. But at the same time he evinced a subtle sense of conceit, an allusive air of superiority to anyone he was talking to. After taking these observations into account, we can deconstruct them and discover for ourselves how like a proverbial Machiavellian politician, Andy Bautista has worked his respectable public image so as to shroud the shadier reality behind it.
In a wider context, the Bautista scandal calls attention to the ongoing, dysfunctional relationship that the political and economic elites have had with the rest of Philippine society. Instead of unity and cooperation between the classes, the elite and their equally amoral, hypocritical lackeys—a deplorable list of sycophants and parasites that may include Andres Bautista—have devalued the legacy of national solidarity and consensus that was realized during EDSA I in 1986.
The lofty vision of the AmBisyon Natin 2040 public plan states that by 2040, “the Philippines shall be a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor.” However, the way things are looking right now—especially under the murderous Duterte administration—that vision is more likely to be dashed as a result of the unremitting errors of judgment and failure of leadership on the part of the political and economic elite.
The legal predicament Andy Bautista finds himself in is just one of the latest illustrations of the modern, top-heavy structure of corruption, cronyism, and criminality that has crowned Philippine politics and economy since the advent of American colonialism at the turn of the 20th century. Keeping that in mind, the dogged pursuit of justice in the case of Andres Bautista provides no guarantee that it will be served.
But for the millions of Filipinos who have experienced enough shame, guilt, and anger at the hands of the elite in almost complete anonymity, the process of bringing about lasting social justice, empowerment, and accountability in their country will get a huge lift by making sure that with Andres Bautista, any inexcusable misdeeds are dealt with firmly and fairly.