And the saga continues. . .
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has once again challenged President Rodrigo Duterte on his claims that he has hidden wealth amounting to billions of pesos in undeclared bank deposits. This was something that he has already done days before the May 2016 presidential elections.
At that point, Duterte was deemed to be the frontrunner, leaving behind the strongest people vying for the top post. Trillanes himself was also a candidate for Vice President, although surveys showed that he was not getting that win. Eventually, Duterte took the presidency and Trillanes went back to the Philippine senate, finishing his remaining the years before his term expires.
On the early months of Duterte’s presidency, Trillanes continued being a critic of his policies. From Duterte’s war on drugs to his fight against a fellow sitting senator, Leila De Lima, Trillanes never shied away from expressing his discontent with the Duterte administration.
It was just recently though when Trillanes went back on his claim regarding Duterte’s undeclared bank deposits. He even went further by saying that Duterte wanted him dead for leaking the said information. Trillanes also held a press conference presenting to the media the documents supposedly proving that the president has indeed amassed not just millions, but billions of pesos in hidden and ill-gotten wealth.
According to Trillanes, it is already given. The president has always wanted him dead for the information he has collected. He has also expressed his willingness to continue the fight and prove his allegations. Based on the documents presented, Duterte’s bank accounts, plus those of his three children and current partner, Cielito Avancena, sum up to almost 2.5 billion pesos. The said amount was amassed from 2006 to 2015.
In response to Trillanes’ claims, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that Trillanes was just being dramatic. He added that at this point, he has no time to respond to those claims considering that the Duterte administration is more focused on nation building. He even recommended to the senator to focus his time and effort on some other more important issues facing the country. Furthermore, Duterte’s chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said that the claim was just a rehash of a previous claim that Trillanes has also failed to prove.
Trillanes continued his fight by saying that Duterte is yet to produce his transaction history with BPI containing his claims of hidden wealth. He also said that at this point, the money from the said account has already been withdrawn. As for BPI, they refused to address the allegations presented by Trillanes, invoking the strong bank secrecy laws of the country.
“Prove you are correct, and I’ll resign”
In what is seemingly a challenge to Trillanes, President Duterte himself said that if the senator can prove his claims that he has billions of pesos (or even just half of it) hidden in different accounts, he would resign immediately. Duterte released this via a recorded video posted on the Presidential Communication’s Office Facebook page.
The President added that this issue was already raised even before he won the presidency. He also explained further that his family has various sources of income. If they have made a fortune over the years, they have legally obtained whatever they have. His family has personal businesses, where most of their income is taken from.
He said that his current partner, Honeylet, has a donut business that was started 18 years ago. He also said that she is a supplier of meat in 5 different malls within Davao City. This explains why she earns a lot of money. His father, former Davao governor Vicente Duterte, has also left him with inheritance, explaining why he was able to provide for the needs of his family.
He then went back to throwing tirades against Trillanes by asking him what he has inherited. He also answered the question by saying that Trillanes got nothing but conceit. He also threw the accusations back to Trillanes, saying that he is actually the thief. He didn’t stop there. He continued taking swipe at Trillanes. He said that the senator is now on his last term and would not lose anything should he leave office. He also has no political career ahead of him. He even criticized Trillanes’ mutiny in which he gained infamy. He mocked him for leading a mutiny where he eventually surrendered as soon as the police have arrived.
Duterte’s children also released statements
As Trillanes’ accusations involved his family, it was inevitable for them to also speak up. Leading the pack was Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. Trillanes accused her of having 121.1 million pesos to her name. She challenged Trillanes that if he can prove his claim, she will give the said amount to him. She further explained that she has no other face other than what everyone sees of her. She doesn’t pretend to be someone whom she is not.
Duterte’s other child, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte also spoke up. Trillanes has accused him of having 104.2 million pesos in his name and was also a disgrace to the nation. Paolo Duterte retaliated by saying that if the senator can prove that he really owns the said amount, he will donate it to the victims of the Surigao earthquake. He even challenged him to resign if he wants to resign and not make excuses. His last statements were really strong when he said that he is a useless senator and the country no longer believes him. “He can rot in hell for all we care,” added Duterte.
There’s more to come
Definitely, we have not seen the end of this story. It seems like both camps don’t want to retract their statements. Trillanes, despite being very unpopular right now, continues his claims and is seemingly not afraid to hit the country’s most powerful person.
Duterte on the other hand, is faced with tons of issues under his administration. His war on drugs remains as a very controversial issue, especially with the recent scandals that rocked his administration. Despite that, he remains as a popular president.