Poll chief’s wife files disbarment raps vs Divina, 20 others

MANILA — The wife of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista on Tuesday filed a disbarment case against University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law dean Nilo Divina and 20 other lawyers in the Divina Law Firm before the Supreme Court (SC).

Patricia Bautista, accompanied by her lawyer Lorna Kapunan filed the complaint against Divina and 20 of his colleagues for alleged violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility for giving referral fees to the Comelec Chairman.

Patricia, earlier claimed that Divina had issued payslips and checks to her husband for allegedly referring clients to Divina Law.

“We are doing what we said we will do which is to use other avenues and other venues to allow these documents to come to light,” Patricia told reporters.

Kapunan said the Comelec chief was not included in the complaint because he has immunity from suit being an impeachable official.

Divina Law is said to be the legal counsel of Smartmatic, a Venezuelan poll technology provider that bagged contracts for the implementation of the 2010, 2013 and 2016 automated elections.

Divina, who has not yet read the complaint, brushed off the allegation.

“I have always acted in accordance with law and the ethical demands of the law profession. I am not worried at all about any threat of disbarment. I have not read the complaint. We will respond accordingly. They are probably sour that their impeachment complaint against Chairman Bautista was dismissed,” Divina said.

Patricia alleged that her husband has bank accounts and properties not included in his statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN). The Divina law firm was mentioned when she made such an accusation against her husband.

Last Sept. 20, the House committee on justice dismissed the impeachment complaint against Bautista after its members found it insufficient in form by 26-2 votes.

The impeachment complaint, which was mostly based on the allegations of Patricia against her husband, was filed by former lawmaker Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio last August 23.Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA-northboundasia.com