Sign waiver, Duterte dared
Prove “your hands are as clean as your mouth.”
Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas on Wednesday issued this challenge to Davao City Rodrigo Duterte in the wake of an exposé by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that the Davao City mayor did not declare more than P200 million allegedly contained in a bank account in 2014.
Roxas and other rivals of Duterte in the presidential race dared the firebrand mayor to sign a waiver on his bank records.
Responding to reporters’ questions, Duterte said he signed a waiver for his bank accounts but it did not cover the BPI account referred to by Trillanes.
“I signed a waiver, yes, but I will make it hard for Trillanes,” Duterte said at a forum sponsored by the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.
“What he showed was only papers,” the mayor said.
Duterte said Trillanes must show proof to back up his claim. “You (Trillanes) prove it. I will not make it easy for you. I will not play into your hands,” he said.
But Roxas, LP presidential candidate, said if Duterte was serious in getting rid of corruption in government, he must show the way by signing a waiver.
“I believe in the principle of transparency. Let’s start it now,” Roxas said at a press briefing after a campaign rally in Talisay City in Cebu.
He urged Duterte to come clean. “Mayor Duterte, I call on you: Reveal the truth about these bank accounts,” he said. “Where did the funds in these bank accounts come from? And why did you not put this in your SALN (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth)?”
Sen. Grace Poe said belying Trillanes’ charges was largely in the hands of Duterte by waiving his bank secrecy on his deposits.
“Wasn’t he the one who started this talk about candidates signing a bank waiver? He claimed he would die for the country. This is one way he can do it but if he can’t even do this, how much more his other promises?” said Poe during a break in a campaign rally in Bataan.
The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay reiterated his dare to his rivals, including Duterte, to allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to look into their bank accounts as well as those of their family members.
Binay signed on March 20 a waiver allowing the AMLC to open his bank accounts and those of his wife and children.
But long before Binay signed the waiver, the AMLC had already looked into his bank accounts, suspected of holding funds believed to have been skimmed off from projects in Makati City when he was its mayor.
Back in March, Duterte and his running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, signed a manifesto pledging to open their bank accounts and even dared other candidates to do the same, according to Trillanes.
“If he is telling the truth, it’s so easy to come up with the waiver so that I would be humiliated,” Trillanes told reporters in a phone patch interview.
According to him, the manifesto that Duterte signed in March pledging to open his bank records would not be accepted by a bank.
The waiver has to be addressed specifically to the bank where the concerned account is located, according to a lawyer whom Trillanes consulted.
“That [manifesto] was just a press release. Don’t believe that,” The senator said.
More info on wealth
Trillanes said he was verifying more data given to him about Duterte’s supposed undeclared wealth and would make these public after he completed his validation.
He said he was standing by his allegation that Duterte had an account with P227 million—not P211 million as earlier reported—as of 2014, which was not declared in the mayor’s SALN.
“I’ve done this several times before. I have yet to be humiliated. All that were presented in investigations even before had turned out to be true,” he said.
Trillanes said he would have come out with his exposé about Duterte earlier if the information had gotten to him sooner. But it was only recently that the data was given to him.
“It was only given to me now and apparently, there are still many people who love the country and are afraid to have a psychopath as Commander in Chief,” he said.
At the MBC-MAP forum at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati, Duterte denied the existence of the bank account claimed by Trillanes. “Believe me. That’s garbage. You can check with the bank. You go there.”
The mayor then called Trillanes, a vice presidential candidate, a liar. Duterte earlier called Trillanes an idiot. “I told you, he is a liar. He fabricated this,” said the leading presidential candidate.
Trillanes is doing this because he rejected him, according to Duterte. “This is election,” he said. “End game na eh.”
Trillanes had wanted to be Duterte’s running mate. The mayor, however, chose Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano said the bank secrecy waivers that he and Duterte had signed and publicized could be used for all their bank accounts. “Our waiver is good for all the accounts,” he said.
He called Trillanes “Poetector” following the latter’s allegation that Duterte had an undeclared P227 million in bank deposits.
“The allegation is obviously a desperate ploy to bring down Mayor Duterte and promote Senator Trillanes’ preferred presidential bet, Sen. Grace Poe,” Cayetano said.
Poe said she had nothing to do with Trillanes’ latest exposé against Duterte.
“Why blame me? Doesn’t he (Cayetano) know Senator Trillanes who is his partner in a lot of hearings in the Senate? If there is one person in the Senate you can’t stop in investigating anomalies—whether you are friend, ally or foe—that is Senator Trillanes,” said Poe, who advised Cayetano to speak directly to Trillanes.
Poe said it was Duterte’s turn to prove his charges. “I have always been the target of their allegations that they say I have to disprove. Well it’s his turn to disprove these allegations against him.”
On allegations of Cayetano that Trillanes was doing the exposé for Poe—the presidential candidate he is supporting—and acting as her “Poetector,” Trillanes wondered whether his colleague could come up with something better than corny lines.
Trillanes warned Cayetano that he could be the next target of his exposé if he insisted on joining the fracas.
“If I were him, I would stay on the sidelines or else I might go after him next,” Trillanes said.
One monster at a time
Trillanes said he was not focusing on Cayetano because he was tackling “one political monster at a time.”
He also said he had been accused of having a backer whenever he came up with an exposé or launched a coup attempt.
Trillanes noted that when he came up with corruption allegations against Binay, he was accused of working for Roxas. But if that were true, he would be with Roxas now, he added.
Trillanes, Cayetano and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III were actively involved in the Senate inquiry into Binay’s alleged corruption and use of dummies to hide his ill-gotten wealth.
Duterte’s party mate, Pimentel, does not think that Trillanes’ allegations would hurt the mayor’s chances in the presidential race.
Pimentel, president of Partido Demoktratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), believed that voters had already made up their minds whom to choose in the elections.
“This latest issue will not affect Duterte’s winning chances because I believe the election is already over. The people have decided. It is Digong for the win, Duterte is the new President,” Pimentel said in a text message.
PDP-Laban said it was easy to come up with allegations and manufacture documents against the mayor. But Pimentel said he would not believe it unless the documents came from the AMLC. With reports from DJ Yap and Christine O. Avendaño; and Carmel Louise Matus, Inquirer Visayas
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