Duterte to rivals: Waive secrecy on bank accounts
PRESIDENTIAL candidate Rodrigo Duterte and his vice presidential running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano, have signed a waiver that will allow the opening of their bank accounts for public scrutiny, and they are daring their rivals to do the same.
“In the light of [graft and corruption] charges faced by Vice President Jejomar Binay and members of his family, we have signed a [statement] challenging other candidates to sign bank secrecy waivers in the interest of transparency and accountability and to deter corruption in any form in the government,” Duterte, the pugnacious mayor of Davao City, told the Inquirer.
Duterte and Cayetano, the Senate majority leader, signed the waiver last Friday and had planned to present it at a meeting with students at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños but they ran out of time.
They announced the waiver through a statement released Sunday.
Duterte and Cayetano are running on a platform of reforms and resolute action against criminality.
They have been calling for the lifting of the bank secrecy law for public officials and the passage of an antidummy law that would prevent officials from amassing ill-gotten wealth.
Blow against Binay
In signing the waiver, Duterte and Cayetano became the first candidates in the May 9 national elections to open themselves to financial scrutiny by the public, a blow against Binay, who is accused in the Office of the Ombudsman of graft and corruption involving overpriced contracts for infrastructure projects that he handled when he was mayor of Makati City.
His son, dismissed Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, has been indicted on the same charges in the graft court Sandiganbayan.
The Ombudsman has said charges will be filed against the Vice President after the end of his term.
Despite the scandal, Binay remains at the top of voter preferential polls, sharing the lead with Sen. Grace Poe.
Last year, during the Senate investigation of the charges against him, Binay was urged to disclose his bank accounts after the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) had secured a freeze order from the Court of Appeals on his assets, including 200 bank accounts and insurance policies. Some of the assets were in the names of members of his family and alleged dummies.
Binay said he was willing to make a disclosure, since the AMLC had already examined his bank accounts. He, however, has yet to announce that his bank accounts are now open for public scrutiny.
Duterte, the standard-bearer of Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), is tied for second place with Mar Roxas, the presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
In the vice presidential race, Cayetano is in third place in the latest polls, behind Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo of the LP, who is in second place, and Sen. Francis Escudero, an independent candidate, and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Nacionalista Party who are tied for the lead.
Cayetano said the waiver declaration called on all presidential and vice presidential candidates to agree to the disclosure of their bank accounts, both local and foreign.
He said the waiver was a “simple integrity check to prove who is walking the talk on the issue of corruption.”
The message is simple, he said: “If the candidates have nothing to hide, they’ll have no problem signing the document. But if they refuse to sign, they not only betray their sincerity in fighting corruption but also put to serious question how much they have accumulated and the source of their wealth.”
Cayetano said public officials could easily dip their hands into the national coffers because the legal system allowed them to conceal their true wealth through dummy accounts.
Corruption, according to Duterte, is an issue in the May elections.
“Corruption, the victimization of poor Filipinos, has [become] a way of life. If I become President, [I will end corruption]. Try me,” Duterte said.
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