August 21, 2017

TRANSCRIPT: Q and A with Comelec chair's brother Martin Bautista

A couple of weeks ago, Comelec chair Andres "Andy" Bautista's wife, Patricia "Tisha" Bautista, revealed to the public pieces of evidence that strongly suggest that the husbad amassed ill-gotten wealth during his stint in the government. 

In defense of his brother Andy, Martin Bautista, a practicing gastroenterologist in the United States, came out several days after the revelation, claiming that much of Andy's alleged wealth came from him. Martin has since appeared in several shows, and he decided to reach out to social media bloggers and newspaper columnists by granting an interview.

The interview turned out to be some sort of town hall meeting, with Martin as the interviewee and the following as the interviewers:
  1. Manila Times columnist and former Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao
  2. Manila Standard columnist Jojo Robles
  3. DLSU Political Science Professor Antonio Contreras
  4. Atty. Trixie Cruz-Angeles
  5. Atty. Ahmed Paglinawan
  6. Krizette Chu
  7. Dr. Ethel Pineda
  8. RJ Nieto (me)
  9. Atty. Bruce Rivera, et. Al.
Bautista was barraged by questions from the interviewers and I have rearranged the contents of the actual conversation into a question-and-answer format to make it more readable. I have removed the names of the persons who asked the questions for brevity.

Here we go.

The Interview

Q1: What is your immigration status in the US right now? Are you a US citizen and if so, are you a dual citizen?
A: (I’ve been a) permanent resident since 1996.
Q: Did you state your US resident status in your certificate of candidacy?
A: I would have surrendered it had I won.
Q: So you declared residency even without surrendering your green card?
A: I had returned to the Philippines permanently in 2006.
Q: But did not surrender your green card?
A: No.

Bautista ran for Senator in 2007 under the "Ang Kapatiran" Party, and in 2010 under the Liberal Party. He lost on both occasions.

Q: To your knowledge, do u have a joint bank account with your brother in any bank in the Philippines?
A: Yes. Since I couldn't sign for some of the accounts, my sister or my mother signed for me.
Q: So you issued them an SPA (Special Power of Attorney)?
A: Yes
Q: How much was in the account?
A: We are working with a forensic accountant. (We) hired her yesterday.
Q: Did your name appear in the accounts as a co-depositor and how much was in the account?
A: I will check. After 2014, I did not have the opportunity to personally open accounts.
Q: To your knowledge do you own an account in Luzon Development bank, singly or as a co-depositor?
A: I inquired yesterday. I know I opened accounts in 2009. I will inform you as soon as I receive word. Always as a co-depositor.
Q: Why are you only asking now?
A: Because the LDB passbooks were taken without my brother's knowledge last November.
Q: You deposited in 2009 but are not aware of the status or amount. Is it fair to say that the controversy moved you to ask?
A: Especially after my brother entered government service in 2010, I don't remember inquiring, a reflection of my absolute trust in my brother.
Q: But surely you would know the initial amount?
A: 1.7 million dollars in 2000… 8 million pesos in 2000… Before they got married.
Q: May I ask the next question: Why did you choose to open accounts--with big amounts--in LDB? Apart from the owner being your friend, were you not worried about stability, as well as products and services?
A: 1993-2010 investments were for growth, 2010-present primarily for stability and security.
Q: LDB is not stable nor established, relative to other banks… Not stability on your end. But the bank itself. To be honest, many of us have never heard of the bank before this "expose." So many are asking why choose LDB?
A: Stability is relative, Krizette, compared to BDO for example, we didn't know the owners. I am inviting Darwin [Cañete] later today or tomorrow to personally view my cash deposits in the US and he will vouch that relative to my investments in our country, these are pretty small. Hindi naman po sa nagyayabang. Please consider my invitation to personally look at my US cash holdings so you can understand my level of interest with my Philippine investments.
Q: What do your friends the Limcaocos say about this and the role of their bank in the issue?
A: [No Answer]
Q: Ok, so the amounts divulged by your sister in law are small, relative to your US holdings, which explains your lack of interest in them. I hope I got that right. But when your brother joined government, did it not occur to you and your family that you should no longer be using him anymore as a depository of your funds, for his own protection?
A: (The) reason why he parked the funds in money market accounts under a trust so that he could minimally supervise the funds.
Q: But what about the SALN implications, especially post-Corona? was this discussed when he joined government?
A: I ask for your patience, the NBI will vouch for all the transactions that occurred before and after he joined government. Jojo, I didn't discuss SALN with my brother.
Q: So, basically, the position taken by the family was: let Andy handle it?
A: Yes.
Q: Why are you here? did you come on your own accord or did Andy ask you to come?
A: I am here on my own accord. I have 5 daughters in the US, school is opening this week and my pulmonologist wife is alone,holding the fort, but she understands that the honor of our family is at stake.
Q: You said you left practically everything to Andy. Can you categorically say that the monies deposited in the accounts are all sourced from family?
A: Yes.
Q: How can you be so sure? Did he give u regular updates on amounts and transactions, dates… You said you practically let him manage them.
A: As I said, after 2010, I don't recall any updates. He rolled them over and over.
Q: So you wouldn’t have data about recent deposits? Like in 2016, for example?
A: Data, in the form of redeemed coupons, bonds, expired passbooks will prove the source of all the funds.
Q: But I am asking you Sir. Are you informed?
A: Not in 2016, Sir.
Q: You said Andy rolled over the deposits. Did he ask your permission? If so, did you give him permission?
A: …I have complete faith and trust in my brother. I allowed him to fully manage my funds in the Philippines.
Q: Why did you think it’d be a good idea to reveal that the Bautistas have money with Andy that Andy STILL did not declare in his SALN?
A: I truly appreciate this opportunity and would like once again to invite all of you for a personal meeting. The SALN of my brother is factually accurate, "no perfect SALN" but very close to the real figure. Iba talaga kung tayo'y magkita.
Q: What are your sources of income sir?
A: Clinic established in 1998, with an endoscopy suite, X-ray, MRI, CT, treadmill, etc plus a pharmacy. See 120-150 patients daily. I am not worried about the IRS, for the past 6 years, my wife and I have been the biggest taxpayers of Texas County, OK. Please don't misconstrue my comments as mayabang.
A Google Streetview of the Specialty Clinics of St. Anne,  an outpatient clinic owned by Bautista, where he employs 4 other Filipino doctors,

Q: How much of your US income is represented by your personal wealth here in the Philippines?
A: Again, let me defer to the figures from the forensic investigation.
Q: So there are others sources of the money with Andy which did not come from the US?
A: My money invested with Andy all came from the US. Remember, my parents are also investors, their funds are from the Philippines.
Q: But hypothetically, you file income tax with the US. Why would you not know it for purposes of filing income tax?
A: Yes, they withhold tax on interest income.
Q: Then there should be paper trail to be able to prove it.
A: Of course.
Q: Are you completely debt free in the US, Sir? No mortgages, loans, and educational loans for the children?
A: Completely without liabilities.
Q: Yes but expenses?
A: We managed to completely pay off our clinic in 10 months in 2001. Total income of $6.5 million less expenses. Audited by the IRS in 2009. No deficiencies.
Q: Your clinic is located where? Oklahoma, right?
A: We are in the Oklahoma panhandle, no HMO, no Medicaid.
Q: Do you employ doctors and nurses? Do you do homecare? It is a rehabilitation facility?
A: 23 employees, 4 doctors (all from UP PGH), 6 nurses, 3 lab techs, reception and billing. Pure outpatient, no rehabilitation.
Q: Is your wife a us citizen?
A: Yes.
Q: No specializations?
A: Gastroenterology and pulmonary medicine… Key to success is location of the clinic, fee for service, rare in the US. My wife and I are the only liberals in the reddest of states. She can vote, I can't.
Q: Do you have fellowship on these areas?
A: My wife and I do. Both associates are board certified in family practice.
Q: Have you, your brother or your family really engaged a PR company's services, to counter the bad publicity, as far as you know?
A: No! I came home also because my brother was doing all the work aside from his Comelec duties, only yesterday did we ask some professionals to help, exceedingly lean next to Tish's.
Q: You said you invested $1.3m here in 2000?
A: $1.7m
Q: Did you add to that later?
A: Yes
Q: (How did you send money to the Philippines?)
A: Wire transfers
Q: In how many increments?
A: Bi annually
Q: Twice only?
A: 1996-2009. Sometimes once a year.
Q: To whom did you wire transfer the money, to Andy?
A: To Andy. Before they got married, everything was clearly demarcated.
Q: You earlier said you invested 1.7m in dollars in the year 2000, but you also sent money before and after that?
A: Current amount to date in 2000 was 1.7, my apologies.
Q: And there was more after 2000?
A: Yes.
Q: How much were these increments?
A: I will provide the breakdown from the accountant.
Q: The total amount remitted in the period you mentioned is more than 1.7?
A: 1.7 was the amount to date in 2000.
Q: How much did you remit in all?
A: More, will get back with you.
Q: When did you invest in Forex?
A: I did not.
Q: Out of the funds in Andy's accounts in Luzon Bank, RCBC, and HSBC how much of these were HIS funds, and can he show proof these are his. I know he is very very rich that he doesn't know the exact figures of his money, but can he give as a ball-park figure?
A: 1.7 represented the year to date investment I had with him before he got married, Patricia acknowledges this fact. He got married in 2000, my wife and I continued to invest with him.
Q: I admire your trust in your brother. You must be super-rich not to ask for some documentation from him that the money is ours, -- in case knock on wood -- something happens to you and your wife, and your children ask to get back the funds.
A: Documentation ground to a halt in late 2009, before he worked for the government. I have no knowledge regarding the pyramid scheme and modesty aside, my Philippine investments represent a small fraction of my total holdings, which I can easily prove as well.
Q: (Conjugal property rights)?
A: Andy made the demarcations between the amounts clear so Tisha would have been entitled to her rightful share. Then again, among 63 first cousins (Donato and Bautista sides) we have had only 2 divorces.
Q: So no documentation, no proof, at all that you really own P1.7M or P77m of Andy's P330m investments in LDB et al? We will just believe you since $1.7M is just change for you? So let me be clear Martin. You say the P77M in Andy's accounts are yours. Are these still there, or did you get it back? But there is no documentation. Everything is in Andy's name?
A: Redeemed bonds and time deposits will show where the funds he had been rolling over originated.
Q: Please explain, walk me through this please. My interest at this point is what happened to your money.
A: From the 1.7 million in 2000, my investments continued to grow with more remittances. The accumulated amount will form the root of the rolled over funds.
Q: If the 120-150 patients a day in your clinic, all of them are yours or us that the total number of patients? There are two other family med consultants, right? Is it accurate to say they see more patients?
A: I used to see the majority but with my advancing age, I now see 30 every morning, I play golf in the afternoon with my wife.
Q: "From the 1.7 million in 2000, my investments continued to grow with more remittances" So how much is your total money worth?
A: We have a forensic accountant determining those amounts… We retained the services of an accountant yesterday. You will be receiving exact amounts.
Q: I just want to be absolutely clear: You gave Andy $1.7 M to put int his LDB accounts. But you can't prove this. This amount has grown with additional remittances from you and with Andy investing it in bonds and time deposits. But all these you can't prove as you're waiting for forensic accountant's report. Do you have any idea or just all park-figure how much your $1.7 M has grown. Has it grown to explain all of Andy's P300 m many in LDB?
A: Our counsel advised us to let the NBI have the first look, hope you understand… Yes, my investments will cover the difference and the forensic research will validate this… My parents have also been entrusting their nest eggs with Andy, don't forget.
Q: I see you have a very large share of patients in your area. A population of 21,000 with your clinic getting 150 patients a day.
A: Our town has a meat packing plant that employs a great number of Hispanics. We are the clinic that speaks Spanish.
Q: I hate to be repetitive, how much ball park figures or percentage lang would account for the P327 million in Andy's account. Let's leave your parents or in laws out of the question muna.
A: We were assured it would take 2 weeks max, I want to give you exact numbers.
Q: You mean your $1.7 m in Andy's account just a fraction of your wealth, that you didn't really care about it, as proven by your home? Saan ba home mo? Last question, promise: is the condo in The District in San francisco yours or Andy's?
A: Copy of my deposits are in my house in New Manila, SFO condo is owned by my sister.
Q: Aside from the $1.7m and P8m you gave Andy, have you given him anything else?
A: 1.7 from 1993-2000. 2000 to 2009, to be determined.
Q: Can you at least give us a ballpark figure of the total remittances from 00 to 09?
A: Can we wait for the accountant to come up with an exact figure?
Q: E baka he's trying to determine pa a formula to generate P300 million out of P77 million in ten years.
A: I will present you proof that my Philippine holdings represent but a fraction of my US holdings, nothing far fetched.
Q: Andy said you guys ran a "forex" investment ops that works similar to a "pyramid scheme". Was it done through a company and if so, what's the the name of that company? If not, can you elaborate a bit more on how that works? Forex trading sans insider info offers minimal profit margins.
A: RJ, I don't know enough about the Forex angle, just arrived Saturday night. My brother mentioned it during his interview with Karen Davila.
Q: Martin, do u categorically say that you have no idea about the total amount you've sent to Andy? I mean, not just the 1.7 + 8, but the total. Even a figure rounded to the nearest ten million pesos or million dollars?
A: At least 250 million pesos… without any interest/investment income.
Q: Got it. What was the source of the approx 250? Pls give me an estimate nung fraction na from your own money.
A: 1/4 of my cash deposits.
Q: So 25% of the 250 is yours?
A: No, I have about 1 billion pesos cash in the US.
Q: Andy has been a finance lawyer in as early as 1993, so why wasn't he holding the money earlier?
A: He started working as a New York lawyer in '93… Some of them, remember Andy did the transfers.
Q: how much do u earn per annum in your practice in Guymon?
A: $3 million last year.
Q: Andy has PoA over your own accounts?
A: Yes.
Q: If Andy has PoA, what made u guys decide that PoA is not enough and you had to transfer the money to him totally?
A: He had total and complete control of our investments, he could not have transferred my funds in the US on his own.
Q: You said that your hospital serviced a factory whose workers are mainly Hispanics. And you took note of the fact that you are the only Spanish speaking hospital in the area. Is that correct?
A: Seaboard Farms in Guymon, Oklahoma. 4000 employees.
Q: You also said that your hospital does not cater to patients with HMO and Medicaid?
A: My clinic, not the county hospital. County is mandated to accept indigent patients.
Q: But I am talking about your clinic.
A: Factory insurance is deemed Cadillac insurance in the US… My clinic doesn't take Medicaid.
Q: So you must be takin in so many paying private patients for you to earn a lot? In a county whose media income is below the US average?
A: Yes, ang laki na nga ang bawas during Obamacare.

Notes

  1. There was supposed to be a continuation of the interview the day after this, but it didn't materialize.
  2. Bautista promised to send us copies of the financial documents, but we have yet to receive them.
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