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Senate to resume probe of Bautista over undeclared wealth

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista may have escaped impeachment by the House of Representatives, but he will not be able to dodge the inquiry being conducted by the Senate on his alleged undeclared wealth. Philstar.com/Jonathan Asuncion, File

MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista may have escaped impeachment by the House of Representatives, but he will not be able to dodge the inquiry being conducted by the Senate on his alleged undeclared wealth.

Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, currencies and financial institutions, said the hearings would resume once the House “formally and finally dismisses it (impeachment complaint) in plenary.”

The Senate committee conducted at least one hearing on Bautista’s alleged undisclosed assets after his estranged wife, Patricia Cruz, claimed to have uncovered documents indicating assets of about P1 billion – an amount way above the P176.3 million Bautista declared in his 2016 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Escudero decided to suspend the proceedings after the House started hearing the impeachment complaint filed against Bautista. His committee has yet to inquire into the alleged accounts maintained by Bautista and his relatives in various banks. But unless Bautista issues waivers on the secrecy of bank deposits, the banks may not be able to release any information regarding these.

In an interview with reporters at the Senate yesterday, Bautista declined to make any commitments about the waivers and his attendance at the Senate hearings.

“I don’t know, let’s see. Did President Duterte sign (waivers)? We’ll study this first,” Bautista said.

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He shared his victory at the House with the election officers of Pangasinan province through a thanksgiving mass offered at the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Manaoag.

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