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President urged to sign bank waivers

President Duterte and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

#TindigPilipinas, a multisectoral coalition, has called on President Duterte to sign bank secrecy waivers — or resign if he does not want to do so — following the disclosure of the Office of the Ombudsman that it has in its possession Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) records of his flagged bank accounts and those of his family.

The bank accounts are now the subject of an investigation by the antigraft body.

“The group wants him to sign the waiver because aside from the (Ombudsman’s disclosure) being alarming, it is also a way to exact accountability on him,” #TindigPilipinas spokesperson Shamah Bulangis told the Inquirer on Wednesday.

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Nothing to hide

But Malacañang said the President had nothing to hide.

“The President respects the internal processes of the [Office of the Ombudsman] as an independent body and trusts its impartiality in the conduct of its fact-finding duty,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said yesterday.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who is the aunt of Mr. Duterte’s son-in-law Manases Carpio, has inhibited herself from the handling of  complaints involving the Duterte family.

She has assigned Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang to handle the investigation.

Carandang has approved the request of the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao to obtain the final report of the AMLC on the bank transactions of the Duterte family when Mr. Duterte was still the Davao City mayor.

People deserve to know

Bulangis said the people “deserve to know” the truth about the wealth of the President and his family, especially after he “projected himself as being impoverished.”

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“I am not even sure if this is just a whiff of corruption, according to his own words,” Bulangis said, using a favorite expression of Mr. Duterte whenever he claims he would exact accountability on government officials.

“But this is something that has to be investigated. We want to hammer this down, the issue of corruption,” he said.

The group’s “Sign or Resign” call stems from Mr. Duterte’s own statement that he will resign if it is proven that he has bank deposits amounting to billions of pesos, as alleged by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes, a critic of the President, earlier alleged that Mr. Duterte had billions of pesos worth of bank transactions.

The President has disputed Trillanes’ allegations, but he has rejected the senator’s challenge for him to sign a new waiver to disclose the transaction history of his bank accounts. He has said Trillanes should not look to him for evidence.

Carandang said the bank transaction records of Mr. Duterte and his family from AMLC were now part of the investigation based on a complaint that Trillanes filed against the President.

The AMLC records include the bank transaction history of the President, his common-law-wife, Cielito Avanceña, estranged wife Elizabeth Zimmerman and children—Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, her husband Manases, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Sebastian Duterte.

Same details

Carandang said that while he could not confirm if the AMLC records sent to his office were the same as the documents that Trillanes had attached to his complaint, a cursory look at the two sets of documents showed that “more or less, they have the same details.”

On Tuesday, he said the Office of the Ombudsman and the AMLC were sharing information on flagged bank transactions.

In such investigations, the AMLC conducts the bank inquiry and establish the possibility of money laundering while the Office of the Ombudsman will establish if corruption was committed, according to Carandang.

While the AMLC has yet to honor the request of the Ombudsman for a copy of its final report, the bank transaction records indicate that the flow of money in the Duterte family’s various bank accounts through the years could amount to almost a billion pesos.

‘Cannot laugh off’

In a statement, #TindigPilipinas said the President “cannot laugh off” the investigation of the Ombudsman, with the confirmation of Mr. Duterte’s “previously exposed bank accounts.”

The Magdalo group, to which Trillanes belongs, is part of #TindigPilipinas.

“He cannot laugh this off, dissemble yet again, contradict himself as if this is an acceptable quirk of his character,” #TindigPilipinas said. “The question is very simple—Where did these billions come from?”

“You ran on a platform of anticorruption, anticrime and antidrugs. Now you need to explain in a clear, detailed and unequivocal way what are the sources of your wealth, when you earned each amounts and where the amounts are now,” the group said.

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TAGS: #TindigPilipinas, AMLC, bank secrecy waivers, Duterte ill-gotten wealth, Office of the Ombudsman, Rodrigo Duterte
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