Ex-Comelec chair Andres Bautista denies receiving bribe money from Smartmatic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) — Andres Bautista, former chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), has denied receiving "any bribe money" from election technology supplier Smartmatic after reports about the US government filing a case against him surfaced on Thursday.

Bautista took to X, formerly Twitter, to respond to the allegations slapped against him.

"[L]et me be very clear. I did not ask for nor receive any bribe money from Smartmatic or any other entity," he said.

The former government official said he was "surprised to learn" about the complaint, saying he "[has] never been contacted by the US Department of Homeland Security about it for comment."

News site Rappler reported that the Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) filed the case against Bautista at the US District Court in the Southern District of Florida on Tuesday, Sept. 19. It said the US case stemmed from his estranged wife Patricia Paz Bautista's accusation that he has ill-gotten wealth allegedly secured from anomalous dealings linked to the presidential race in 2016.

RELATED: COMELEC chair accused of unexplained wealth by estranged wife

But Bautista defended the 2016 elections, noting that it was "hailed by various independent national and local election stakeholders as the best managed in our electoral history."

"Be that as it may, I am ready to respond to the alleged charges at the proper forum and time," he said.

Bautista was impeached from his Comelec post in 2017 following the allegations of unexplained wealth.

READ: Ex-Comelec chairman Andy Bautista speaks up on political threats, Smartmatic allegations

Smartmatic Spokesperson and former Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, meanwhile, said the company refused to comment on the issue.

“During steering committee meetings, Chairman Bautista did not participate much. So I would not have any idea on how he dealt with suppliers,” added Lim, who was the head of the steering committee for the 2016 polls.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia, on the other hand, described Bautista's case as "an eye-opener."

"But at this point, the presumption of innocence stands," Garcia said.

Garcia added that they will closely monitor the matter.

The Comelec official said they will ensure that acquiring new machines for the 2025 elections will be "“transparent, inclusive, and fair."

"That is, that everybody is afforded a level-playing field thereby ensuring equal chance and opportunity to all. Nothing should be hidden to public scrutiny with only the best interest of the people in mind," he said.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Paige Javier contributed to this report.