Duterte calls Trillanes ‘political ISIS’
President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday called Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV a “political ISIS” whose intention was to destroy, but the senator said the President was “panicking because we’re close to divulging the illegal activities of his family.”
The President slammed Trillanes following last week’s Senate hearing on the P6.4-billion “shabu” (crystal meth) shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in May, allegedly with the help of the “Davao Group.”
Trillanes figured in a heated exchange with Sen. Richard Gordon after he asked the Senate blue ribbon committee to summon the President’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and his son-in-law, Maneses Carpio, to the hearing.
The senator wanted the two to respond to the allegation of customs “fixer” Mark Taguba that he gave millions to them, who are allegedly behind the Davao Group.
But Taguba later apologized and cleared the vice mayor and Carpio of any wrongdoing, saying that their alleged involvement in smuggling was fake news.
In Davao City, Mr. Duterte said Trillanes, like an Isis fighter, would attack without any valid reason. “But you have to forgive him because he does not know what he is doing.”
Relying on hearsay
He told reporters that the senator relied on hearsay in an effort to damage his reputation and that of other people.
“He (Trillanes) does not have any talent. He does not even know the difference between a democrat and a member of a party. How can you expect [him to do good] when he lacked a knowledge of life?” the President added.
In a statement, Trillanes said Mr. Duterte was panicking because he was close to revealing the President family’s illegal activities. “That is why he has billions (of pesos) in the bank.”
The senator was referring to the plunder case that he filed against the President whom he accused during the presidential campaign of having P2.4 billion in bank transactions, particularly in his accounts with Bank of the Philippine Islands.
The President noted the senator’s allegation. “That’s why I said you ‘try to find it and if the money exists, it’s all yours.’”
Mr. Duterte said nothing was found even if he had given the senator the authority to “examine the books of all rural banks.”
In a radio interview on Sunday, Trillanes insisted that the Davao Group was involved in the shabu shipment from China because Taguba had said a certain “Tita Nani” from the Davao Group was also involved in the smuggling.
Taguba’s apology to the younger Duterte and Carpio “doesn’t change anything,” Trillanes said, noting that the text messages the customs fixer had in his phone referred to a “P” or “Mance” and that the former attested that these were the President’s relatives.
Mr. Duterte said that when the elections were over, he told his critics that he had already won but they continued to put him down.
He said the latest issue was the supposed involvement of his son Paolo and his son-in-law in smuggling.
“When this issue first came out, I told them the history of my son when he eloped with a Muslim lady, whose family’s business were jars, buy and sell and barter,” Mr. Duterte said.
Paolo, he said, learned the business from that experience.
But he said Taguba had not linked Paolo to smuggling. “[Taguba] really did not say anything to that effect (that Paolo was involved in smuggling) contrary to what came out in the reports.”
In the case of Carpio, a lawyer, Mr. Duterte said it was a simple case of lawyering. “There is absolutely nothing wrong if you take in a client who is poor or a client that turned out to be the richest in the world,” he said.
Trillanes earlier said that Carpio made visits to the BOC when it was headed by Nicanor Faeldon.
The President described the Senate hearings on smuggling as “a fishing expedition” aimed at extracting statements that would incriminate those being linked to the scandal.
Mr. Duterte said that by all indications, the hearings were only for “purposes of harassment” and for political gain.
Because of this, the processes of the Senate have been degraded, he said. “It looks cheap now.”
The President also said Trillanes’ demeanor was unruly. “When he quareled with Gordon insisting on something which cannot be done legally, it’s an unruly behavior,” he said.
Trillanes, Mr. Duterte said, could be punished for that.
In his statement, Trillanes insisted that the suspicion that the younger Duterte and Carpio were involved in smuggling did not come from him but from “Senator Gordon’s witnesses during the hearings.”
“Moreover, this is not the first time that Paolo Duterte has been involved in smuggling and illegal drugs. Way back in 2007, there were derogatory reports from the National Bureau of Investigation and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group about Paolo Duterte’s involvement in smuggling in BOC in Davao City port,” he said.
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