Senate orders arrest of ex-Comelec chief Bautista

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate ordered the arrest of former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista for repeatedly skipping the probe into his alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate banks committee investigating the issue, said Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III signed the order on Wednesday, February 21.

"Just learned that Koko signed it last Wednesday," Escudero said in a text message.

Bautista has ignored the hearing at least thrice despite the issuance of a subpoena. He said he has been abroad since November 21, 2017 to explore career opportunities and seek medical assistance. He also denied receiving any invitation to attend the Senate inquiry.

"The OSAA (Senate's Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms) will try to serve it (arrest warrant) by coordinating with various law enforcement agencies including the Bureau of Immigration and wait for it to be returned, served, or unserved and will submit a corresponding report to the committee," Escudero said.

The senator added that he would schedule another hearing before Congress adjourns session in March.

In the last hearing, Escudero questioned the accuracy of Bautista's claim that he has been abroad since November 21 last year.

Citing records from the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Escudero said Bautista's last departure from the Philippines was on October 21, 2017. His return was on November 1, 2017.

Asked about it, Escudero said he has yet to get the answer to his question.

Bautista earlier faced an impeachment complaint over allegations of his estranged wife that he illegally amassed nearly P1 billion.

But before the complaint could prosper, Bautista resigned and was replaced by Sheriff Abas. – Rappler.com