Duterte son, in-law to face senators
The Senate blue ribbon panel, which Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV last week called a “committee of exoneration,” has invited Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte of Davao City and his brother-in-law, Manases Carpio, to its hearing on the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) into the
The vice mayor, a son of President Rodrigo Duterte, and Carpio, a son-in-law of the President, said they would attend the Senate hearing scheduled for Sept. 7.
“We commit to respect the invitation and attend the hearing,” they said.
Whether the two will talk is another matter, as the President has advised them to stay “silent” at the Senate investigation.
In a joint statement, the younger Duterte and Carpio said, “We duly recognize the coercive powers of the Senate of the Philippines as part of the legislative branch of the government and its authority to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation.”
The vice mayor and Carpio are allegedly behind the so-called Davao Group that facilitates smuggling at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), including the 605 kilograms of shabu brought in from China in May.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the committee, told reporters on Monday that he had agreed to invite the younger Duterte and Carpio to the hearing, a move recognizing the motion of Trillanes to summon the two men.
“We will summon so that can be finished immediately because I’m leaving for a meeting abroad,” Gordon said.
Trillanes sought the invitation of the vice mayor and Carpio after customs “fixer” Mark Taguba II testified that the two men were said to be the “P,” or “Pulong,” and “Mance” his contacts claimed were behind the Davao Group at the BOC.
Gordon said the committee hearing would also look into Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s privilege speech that identified BOC officials and employees who received “tara” (payola), alleged bribe givers and bagmen.
“If they are my sons, if they are my family, I expect them to be on a higher plane than any ordinary citizen and that they would be able to answer any quip … They should answer,” Gordon said of the younger Duterte and Carpio.
On Friday, Taguba issued a statement clearing the vice mayor and Carpio of involvement in the smuggling of 605 kilograms of shabu from Xiamen.
He issued the statement a day after he appeared in the committee hearing where he read alleged text messages between him and two members of the Davao Group that appeared to implicate the President’s son and son-in-law.
Gordon and Trillanes clashed at the hearing when the latter called the panel a “comite de absuelto” (committee of exoneration) because it rebuffed his move to summon the two men.
Gordon said he could not just summon anyone based on hearsay.
Trillanes on Monday said public outrage pushed Gordon to finally summon Vice Mayor Duterte and Carpio to the hearing.
“Definitely, he felt the outrage because it’s obvious that he stalled and the public saw through that,” he told reporters.
Trillanes said he would “prepare for their appearance” and find ways to “extract information” should the two men heed the President’s advice to stay silent.
The President said on Saturday that he would advise his son to attend the Senate hearing and then invoke his right against self-incrimination if Trillanes asked questions.
“My advice to Pulong? Go there and when you arrive and he [asks] questions, just say, ‘I will not answer you. I’m invoking my right of silence because, even during the elections when my father was not yet President, you were already hitting us,’” the President said.
“So, if you want evidence, Mr. Trilling, do not get it from the mouth of other people. Go somewhere else,” he added.
Mr. Duterte said people invited by the Senate should not be afraid if senators threatened to cite them in contempt for not answering questions.
“The process of the Senate has been degraded … It looks cheap now,” the President said.
Carpio, a lawyer, last week belied the senator’s accusations, saying Trillanes was just a “rumormonger who happens to be a senator.” —With reports from Nico Alconaba and Philip C. Tubeza
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