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SOURCES OF WEALTH QUESTIONED

Duterte inheritance story stumps Trillanes

antonio trillanes

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. (File photo by EDWIN BACASMAS / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

If President Rodrigo Duterte insists that his family’s wealth came from the sale of real estate, then why did he not include this in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN)?

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Sunday asked this question as he scoffed at the President’s “new narrative” that, he said, belied his campaign story that he was born into a poor family.

The senator was reacting to the President’s latest disclosure about the source of his and his family’s wealth to counter accusations that he hid ill-gotten wealth as Trillanes had been alleging.

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Mr. Duterte said on Friday in Davao City that he and his four siblings had made “millions” from selling inherited land and from logging. He claimed that he already had P3 million when he was a fourth year student.

The senator said the President was now on the defensive and was explaining his family’s wealth because people were about to know about his alleged illegal activities.

‘A man of simple means’

Trillanes said many Filipinos got fooled by Mr. Duterte when he made it appear during last year’s presidential campaign that he was a man of simple means who was sleeping in a mosquito net.

“First of all, assuming what (the President) said was true, then how come he did not [declare] this [in] his SALN?” Trillanes said in a phone interview.

He was referring to the document stating the income and properties of all government employees.

“And even if this was true, it won’t explain the billions of pesos deposited and credited under his name in the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI),” he added.

Trillanes has accused Mr. Duterte of having P2 billion in bank transactions and dared him repeatedly to sign a bank waiver, the last of which came after the President accused him of owning offshore bank accounts.

Bank secrecy waiver

But last week, the senator shot down the President’s accusation when he went to a bank in Singapore and established that one of the 12 bank accounts he allegedly owned was nonexistent.

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Mr. Duterte later admitted that he invented the bank account number of Trillanes’ supposed Singapore account.

In a phone interview on Sunday, Trillanes said the only way the truth could be established was for Mr. Duterte “to sign a bank secrecy waiver right now.”

He said that what Mr. Duterte had signed was a special power of attorney “exclusively” for his then election lawyer, now Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, to let the bank disclose his transactions, but which the senator said was “never for public disclosure.”

Mockery of FOI

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano likewise lambasted Malacañang’s move to redact information from Cabinet officials’ SALNs as a “mockery” of Mr. Duterte’s Freedom of Information (FOI) order, saying transparency trumped privacy.

Alejano reminded the Palace that the SALN was meant to be an anticorruption measure so the public could track the changes in the wealth of officials while they were in office.

“It appears that the FOI executive order signed by the President and all his tough talk against corruption are just for a show,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Saturday justified the redaction of “personal data,” like the names of family members and locations of the officials’ properties, by invoking the “right to privacy.”

Abella, however, did not explain why the Palace saw the need to conceal the acquisition costs of properties as reported by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. —WITH A REPORT FROM VINCE F. NONATO

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, Duterte inheritance, Gary Alejano, Rodrigo Duterte
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