President Rodrigo Duterte called on his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, and the public to snub the Senate investigation into the P6.4 billion inbound shipment of illegal drugs from China.
He issued the statement three days after Senators Richard Gordon and Antonio Trillanes 4th clashed during the course of the inquiry.
“My advice to Pulong? Go there and when you are asked questions, just tell them, I will not answer you, I am invoking my right of silence because since dating back to the elections, you (Senator Trillanes) have been training your guns on us [Duterte family],” Duterte said.
“So for the next batches [of people]whom Trillanes want to be issued a subpoena, all you have to do is to send a letter [to the Senate telling them], ‘We are not answering your questions. I will not submit to an investigation,’” he added.
Trillanes and Gordon traded insults after the former insisted that Paolo Duterte and Manases Carpio, husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, should be summoned to the hearing.
Customs fixer Mark Taguba had claimed that he gave P1 million bribe to the Davao Group that includes the vice mayor. Carpio’s name cropped up in the text messages between Taguba and Tita Nanie, his alleged contact with the Davao group.
Gordon had said that there was no need to summon Paulo Duterte because Taguba’s testimony was based on hearsay. He threatened to file an ethics complaint against Trillanes for his unruly behavior.
The President said the public should follow his lead of snubbing the Senate investigations.
“Believe me, I am a lawyer and a President. I am your legal adviser. Do not be afraid to be cited in contempt. As a lawyer, I suppose I can advice citizens of this Republic that when you are cited to appear in the Senate, you may want to appear to avoid arrest, being cited in contempt, but when the question starts pouring, just don’t answer. That is my advice to the people of the Philippines. Don’t be afraid of being cited in contempt. That’s nothing,” Duterte said.
The President was referring to the congressional power of citing a resource person in contempt for snubbing probes and lying under oath.
“When you are called to the Senate, ask for my help. I will help you out. I will send a lawyer. I have to say that I represent the person cited to appear, and my answer to him is, “Shut up.” End of story,” Duterte said.
“It (My advice) is not because the charges are true. What do I know? Your (senators) questions might be crafted to suit an affidavit, and you will be forced to answer. You cannot do that,” he added.
The President said issuing a subpoena against his son is illegal and a form of harassment.
“Trillanes claims B told him that it was C who told him [of Pulong’s involvement]. That’s not evidence. He is forcing an illegal [action of summoning Pulong to the Senate]…which can’t be really done,” Duterte said.
“Trillanes is a political ISIS. He doesn’t have talent. But we have to forgive him. He doesn’t know what he is doing. When he quarrelled with Gordon insisting on something which cannot be done legally, it is an unruly behavior. And they can always be punished for that and even ousted from the Senate.”
Taguba has retracted his accusations Paolo Duterte, saying his statements at the Senate were based on hearsay.
Gordon on Thursday said the blue ribbon committee’s initial report on the drug investigation will be out today, Sept. 4.
The preliminary report will be about the drug smuggling and the payment of bribes or “tara” to officials and personnel of the Bureau of Customs.
Trillanes on Sunday said he is ready for whatever action that may be taken against him. The Senate majority bloc is scheduled to hold a caucus today to discuss the matter.
“Talagang paghahandaan ko yan sila (I am really preparing for them),” Trillanes said as he maintained that he did nothing unethical.
“I do believe that the senators know what is right and what is wrong,” he said in a radio interview.
Minority senatorshad expressed their support to Trillanes and asked their colleagues in the majority to rethink their position regarding the ethics complaint.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA