Senate panel issues subpoena for ex-Comelec chief Bautista

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 23) — A Senate panel has issued a subpoena to compel former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista to attend hearings on his alleged unexplained wealth.

Senator Francis Escudero, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, said the subpoena was issued after Bautista failed to attend the third hearing on Tuesday.

Bautista was ordered to appear before the Senate panel on February 12. If he fails to show up, he might be cited in contempt.

"Failure to do so would compel the Senate to hold him in contempt and move for his arrest under Section 18 of the Rules Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation," Escudero said in a press release.

The senator said the committee has sent three invitations to Bautista since the inquiry began on August 23, but the resigned Comelec chief has not given reasons for his absence and he did not even send a representative.

"We held him in his own words on the media in the past that he will appear and defend himself once invited but apparently he has been a consistent no-show," Escudero said.

Bautista's estranged wife, Patricia, in August 2016 accused him of amassing ill-gotten wealth and having around P1 billion in his bank accounts, which he failed to disclose in his 2016 Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SALN).

She said he acquired all these assets through "misleading and corrupt practices while in office."

The resigned Comelec Chairman said he was being blackmailed and extorted by Patricia.