Duterte son won’t show tattoo to Trillanes in Senate probe
A dragon tattoo. Pictures with someone who facilitated a huge drug shipment from China. Bank accounts.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV cited these at the seventh Senate hearing on the P6.4-billion “shabu” (crystal meth) shipment from China to drive home the point that Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte was engaged in smuggling.
The vice mayor, a son of President Duterte, denied the allegations.
The lawyer of the vice mayor, Rainier Madrid, told reporters after the hearing that Trillanes was a “military propagandist” whose real target was none other than the President.
Trillanes accused the younger Duterte of being a member of the Chinese drug triad, citing a supposed dragon tattoo on his back as proof.
The vice mayor admitted that he had a tattoo on his back. But he refused to show it as requested by Trillanes, invoking his right to privacy.
“No way!” the younger Duterte replied when Trillanes asked him if he was willing to have a picture of his tattoo taken in the presence of the Senate sergeant at arms so it could be submitted to the US Drug Enforcement Agency for decoding.
“The tattoo is physical evidence of his membership in the triad,” the senator said.
Trillanes said the triad he was talking about was based in China, Macau and Hong Kong, and was engaged in criminal activities, including importing illegal drugs.
He later told reporters that the information he got from a foreign country showed that the younger Duterte and a certain Charlie Tan, whom the vice mayor acknowledged as a friend and a drinking buddy, were triad members.
Asked why a foreign government had such information, Trillanes said the vice mayor was on the radar of foreign authorities.
He said the membership of the President’s son in the triad was the reason the illegal drug shipment entered the country through the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
The vice mayor and his brother-in-law, Manases “Mans” Carpio, appeared at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing after Trillanes sought their attendance because customs fixer Mark Ruben Taguba II had mentioned at previous hearings that his contacts at the BOC were claiming they were part of the Davao Group, which is allegedly involved in smuggling.
Before Trillanes posed questions to the brothers-in-law, he presented pictures of the vice mayor with Kenneth Dong, who facilitated what turned out to be the shabu shipment from China; of the younger Duterte with Charlie Tan; and of the younger Duterte with Carpio, Tan and Davao City Councilor Small Abellera.
Trillanes told reporters he presented the photos to show that the vice mayor was close to Dong, Abellera and Tan,
and that the President son’s “fingerprints are all over the shabu shipment and smuggling” at the BOC.
Before they fielded questions from Trillanes, the vice mayor and Carpio read statements denying their alleged involvement in the shabu shipment.
“[A] senator once said that we are a family of murderers and that I’m untouchable. Allow me to quote a message from a colleague of mine in the Davao City council: ‘Every [dog] has its day. The law of karma will operate especially to those with evil intent,’” the younger Duterte said.
Reading his statement, Carpio said he and his brother-in-law had been “publicly crucified based on rumors and gossip.”
Carpio said he did not know and had never met Taguba.
He also explained his visits to the BOC as part of representing his clients. “I have no knowledge of or involvement in the illegal shabu shipment,” he said.
The President’s son-in-law is the lawyer of Rodolfo Reta, owner of Aquarius Container Yard, designated examination area (DEA) of the BOC in Davao City.
In 2010, the BOC rescinded the 25-year contract with Reta to operate the DEA after the businessman reported the alleged misdeclaration of goods in some of the containers passing through an X-ray machine.
The incident led to Davao Port District Collector Anju Nereo Castigador’s dismissal from service as ordered by the Ombudsman in 2012.
The DEA, however, remains closed.
At the hearing, Carpio said he knew Charlie Tan, a businessman who owned a bar and was in the seafood business.
Trillanes also asked the vice mayor if he had an account in the Philippine National Bank (PNB) in Sta. Ana, Davao City, and the latter said he had one there.
He mentioned a specific bank account number and asked whether this was the vice mayor’s account in PNB. The younger Duterte asked the chair whether he should answer “irrelevant questions.”
Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the blue ribbon committee, told the younger Duterte it was up to him if he wanted to answer. The vice mayor said he did not want to answer Trillanes’ questions anymore.
Bank secrecy law
The younger Duterte also refused to say whether he had bank accounts in Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and Bank of the Philippine Islands.
“There is a law on bank secrecy and I have the right to privacy,” he said.
“So which part of the question will incriminate you?” Trillanes asked the younger Duterte, noting that the vice mayor had P104 million in his bank accounts as of November 2015.
The younger Duterte refused to answer.
As for Carpio, Trillanes asked him if he had a bank account in Metrobank. Carpio denied having one. But he said he had a BDO account.
Trillanes also asked Carpio if as of late 2015 he had P121 million in deposits. The President’s son-in-law invoked the bank secrecy law. He disputed the senator’s allegation, saying “I don’t have that much money.”
Asked by the senator whether they were willing to sign a pro forma bank waiver, the brothers-in-law refused.
Gordon said he would hold the next hearing on Monday but would no longer call the two men. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER MINDANAO
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