VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Palace social media consultant makes misleading claims on Senate probe into ex-Comelec chair Bautista

(UPDATED) Suspended lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles, a social media consultant for the Presidential Communications Operations Office, made two inaccurate claims in a May 29 Facebook live video.

First, she claimed the Senate banks committee, which has been investigating former Commission on Elections chair Andres Bautista since August 2017 for alleged money laundering activities, had already “concluded” its probe.

Second, she claimed the Senate’s arrest order against Bautista had already been withdrawn.

STATEMENT

Cruz-Angeles said:

“Final recap, Andy Bautista, the Senate investigation has already been concluded.”

Source: Andy Bautista and the presidents cryptic message, Luminous by Trixie Cruz-Angeles & Ahmed Paglinawan, May 29, 2018, watch from 22:22 to 22:26

She added:

Wala na po siyang warrant of arrest from the Senate dahil tapos na po; sinara na po ‘yung, ni Chiz ‘yung investigation dahil nasagot ‘yung mga tanong na ni-re-require ng committee ng mga lawyers ni Andy Bautista (He no longer has an arrest order from the Senate because the probe is done; Sen. Chiz Escudero already concluded the investigation since Bautista’s lawyers had already answered the questions required by the committee).”

Source: Andy Bautista and the presidents cryptic message, Luminous by Trixie Cruz-Angeles & Ahmed Paglinawan, May 29, 2018, watch from 22:27 to 22:38

FACT

Both claims are inaccurate.

The office of Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who chairs the Senate banks committee probing Bautista, told VERA Files in a text message and subsequent phone interview that the investigation is still active and the arrest order still in effect:

“Sen. Chiz has already asked the committee to lift the warrant through a committee resolution issued last May 21. Former Commissioner (sic) Bautista submitted his affidavit to the committee last March 26. Since the arrest warrant was a committee action, lifting is the same. Need a majority to concur before withdrawal. Resolution was routed for committee members’ signatures last May 21, as of today (June 5), it has not yet been signed by a majority of the senators.”

More, Escudero’s office said:

“The recommendation to lift the arrest order does not terminate the investigation.”

“Even if the committee lifts the order, the investigation is still active.”

The Senate banks committee probe stemmed from reports that the former poll chief has 35 separate accounts with the Luzon Development Bank totaling P329 million.

In February 2018, the Senate sought to arrest Bautista for refusing to attend hearings. Bautista, who has been in the United States since November 2017, maintained he had not received any invitations to attend a Senate probe.

Congress voted to impeach Bautista in October 2017, hours after he announced his resignation.

UPDATE: Responding to this post, Cruz-Angeles corrected her errors in a June 7 Facebook live video.

"I'm here to issue an erratum. They are correct," she said.

Sources:

GMA News Online, House votes to impeach Comelec Chair Bautista, Oct. 11, 2017

Philstar Global, House votes to impeach Comelec Chairman Bautista, Oct. 11, 2017

Philippine Daily Inquirer, House impeaches Comelec chief after he said he was resigning, Oct. 11, 2017

Website of the Philippine Senate, Chiz says Bautista arrest warrant stays, March 19, 2018

Website of the Philippine Senate, Chiz seeks Senate arrest of ex-Comelec chair Bautista, Feb. 12, 2018

Website of the Philippine Senate, Senate committee subpoenas ex-Comelec chief Bautista, Jan. 23, 2018

Website of the Philippine Senate, Resolution No. 468, Aug. 16, 2017

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

Share the Facts

FOR FURTHER READING

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Senate is NOT ORDERING ex-COMELEC chief’s arrest

This story is false. Don't believe it.

Time to amend election law, says poll chief

Commission on Elections chief Andres Bautista says the country needs to change its election laws to…

VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Timeline of the controversy on Duterte’s wealth

In the latest of a saga that dates back to the 2016 elections, at the center of which is the…

About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

Contact Us

Email us at [email protected]