Trillanes to Duterte: Don't divert issue on bank accounts

By Paolo Romero

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Antonio Trillanes IV ignored yesterday President Duterte’s allegation that the lawmaker was a tulisan (bandit) who is only using his position to run a “lucrative business” to obtain “retainers.”

The lawmaker stood by his claim that Duterte illegally amassed at least P2 billion in the last five years and continued to press him to make public his bank accounts to disprove it.

“Regarding his insults against me, I will not respond to him. But I will also not allow him to divert the issue (of his bank accounts),” Trillanes said.

“President Duterte, you talk too much. If you really don’t have hidden wealth, accept my challenge and open the transaction history of your bank accounts. And if I’m wrong, I will immediately resign as a senator,” he added.

Trillanes, a former military officer and coup leader, pointed out that he filed in May 2016 a complaint for plunder against Duterte before the Office of the Ombudsman. He presented some documents on the alleged questionable transactions with the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) as evidence.

The senator said the ombudsman should speed up its investigation against the President, believing that, by this time, the anti-graft body should already have records of Duterte’s and his family members’ transactions.  

He renewed his accusation Thursday as he challenged Duterte to disclose his bank transactions from 2011 to 2015, alleging that the Chief Executive had an accumulated wealth of P2 billion from Davao City’s intelligence funds and from various campaign contributions and illegal activities.

But the President countered that it is the senator who is known for his illicit activities.

“Trillanes is on his last term and would have nothing to lose if he would resign from office, which explains his penchant for always daring the President to resign,” Duterte said.

“It is known in the Senate that Trillanes uses his office to ask for retainers and this has become a lucrative business for him,” he added.

Duterte dared Trillanes to go to court and file cases against him, aside from telling him to “stop opening his mouth when he has nothing to say anyway.”

Among the significant transactions in the documents provided by Trillanes was the contribution of a Davao City-based businessman identified as Sammy Uy, who allegedly gave Duterte, his common-law wife Honeylet Avancena and his children a total of P120 million.

He said he had the data validated and is confident that he would not be proven wrong.

It has been nine months since he challenged Duterte to make public his accounts with the Julia Vargas branch of the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) in Pasig City “and nothing came out of it,” he added.

Trillanes recalled that he dared Duterte in April 2016 to meet him at that BPI branch but was met only by then private lawyer Salvador Panelo, who said the records would be released after last year’s presidential race.

He also said a “pattern of corruption” can be seen under the Duterte administration, citing as examples the court’s decision to free former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from detention last year and this year’s efforts to free Janet Lim-Napoles, who is accused of being the brains behind the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

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