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Brother says he owns most of Comelec chief’s deposits in Luzon Bank

But he can’t prove it yet
TEN days after the wife of the Commission on Election chairman alleged that Andres Bautista had P330 million in unexplainable wealth deposited in a small thrift bank, Luzon Development Bank, his US-based brother, Martin Bautista, has come forward to make the  claim that he owns P250 million of this stash.

The Comelec chief has been merely issuing blanket denials of his wife’s allegations, claiming that the deposits were closed or were not his. So far, though, he has neither confirmed nor denied his brother’s claim, which is a bit strange.

In a Facebook “chat” with several netizens the other day, Martin claimed that he will provide them the documents to prove his ownership of the deposits, and that “forensic accountants” he has contracted will come up with exact figures on how much of his money is in his brother’s accounts.

He hasn’t yet produced the documents that he promised. In his attempt to impress his interviewers, Martin thrice described his auditors as “forensic accountants”. That’s a bad choice of terms: Forensic accounting refers to a specialized discipline to uncover fraud, by examining in detail a company or a person’s financial records.

Martin said he had remitted to his brother’s accounts a total of $1.7 million from 1993 to 2000. He claimed that he continued to send money to his brother from 2000 to 2009, although the total amount is “to be determined” by his “forensic accountants.”

It is astonishing though that he could remember that he had $1.7 million in his brother’s accounts as of 2000, but couldn’t remember how much it was by 2009, or 2017.

I won’t at all be surprised if the amount that will “be determined” (for the money sent from 2000 to 2017) plus the $1.7 million (equivalent to P77 million), plus interest on these funds, would account for much—or P250 million—of Andres’ deposits of P330 million in Luzon Bank. Perhaps that’s what his forensic accountants specialize in doing.

Martin Bautista in a 2010 campaign ad, with Aquino asking Filipinos to make him senator.

While Andres, the Comelec head, has portrayed himself in media as an apolitical legal eagle and a corporate lawyer, the fact that his brother Martin was one of the Liberal Party’s 12 senatorial candidates in the 2010 elections indicates his strong links, kept secret all this time, with the Liberal Party.

Martin on his own couldn’t have developed the links with the Liberal Party or its presidential candidate Benigno Aquino 3rd, since he had been in the US since the early 1990s, and had become a permanent resident there. A smooth talker—google his recent TV interviews—Martin, I was told, got to be close to the former president.

Martin in his “chat” in Facebook boasted that the money in his brother’s accounts are easily his, since he even has P1 billion in cash in the US. In an interview with TV5, he showed video clips of his house, bragging that it is a mansion with a library, swimming pool, and elevator. “When you step out, you see a fine view of Oklahoma City,” he told the reporter, as he panned the scene with his smartphone. “I even have a pantry, even if we don’t cook,” he said.

I don’t understand how he got to be rich in the US though, as his and his wife’s medical practice—he a gastroenterologist, she a pulmonologist— have totally been in Guymon, the seat of Texas County in Oklahoma, with a population of 21,000, or as big as our Albuera, Leyte. Texas County’s per capita income is $16,000 (2010 figures), about half the $30,000 average for the whole country.

Memorial County Hospital where Martin practiced, and where he was also chief of staff had been in such deep financial trouble in 2016 that it nearly closed down. Its CEO was even fired amid allegations of fraud. Martin said in his Facebook chat: “I tried to buy it (the hospital) twice, rebuffed by bigots.”

To bolster his claim that his money in his brother’s deposits was just “a fraction” of his wealth, Martin in his Facebook chat said he is Texas County’s biggest taxpayer, and that he earned $3 million last year. That’s huge: average income of physicians (specialists) in the US is $300,000.

However, in the chat, Martin described a cash-for-service clinic he had set up in 1998 that serviced a factory manned mostly by Hispanics, the costs for setting up of which he recovered in 2001.

Martin, although living in the hinterland in the US, has had access to the best fund managers in the world who employ the most sophisticated mathematicians, phalanxes of intrepid researchers, and world-class corporate analysts tracking all markets on this planet. They could have generated the highest possible income from his money, very hard-earned poking into anuses and intestines.

Yet he converted his millions of dollars — the most trusted currency in the world — into Philippine pesos, and sent these to his brother’s account in a small thrift bank in Laguna, for him to manage for two decades, never mind that Andres has never been a funds manager and has been a busy corporate lawyer with full-time jobs. Martin also says he is so rich he hasn’t even been tracking how much he has in his brother’s bank.

Martin must have caught that very bad virus among a few Filipinos who migrate abroad, which makes them think their former countrymen are stupid.