Malacañang on Monday dismissed as mere “propaganda” the photos circulating on social media showing President Rodrigo Duterte’s eldest son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, with Kenneth Dong, the middleman in the delivery of 604-kilogram shabu from China into the country.
In a chance interview, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said sharing of photos of the two online is just “trial by publicity.”
“If [there is]anything serious regarding this matter, then [you]should raise the issue, raise the issue at the proper venue… At the end of the day, what does it become? It becomes a trial by publicity,” Abella told reporters.
The Palace official said the photos must first be vetted for accuracy in order to count them as documentary evidence.
“I mean what does a picture prove? [It’s] different when [it is shown]in the court and different when there is really documentary evidence,” Abella added.
“Yun ang sinasabi, ang mahalaga, documentary evidence, hindi lang sabi-sabi [That’s what’s important, documentary evidence, not hearsay]… Otherwise, all of these things are just speculations, propaganda that can be used and misused,” he said.
Abella reiterated President Duterte’s promise to step down from office if anyone can give him an affidavit proving his son is corrupt.
“Well the President said, kung pamilya niya ang madadawit, siya mismo ang bababa [if his family was really into it, he himself will step down as President],” he said.
Customs broker Mark Taguba earlier dropped several names of government officials who were on the take from smugglers during a congressional hearing on August 6.
One of the names that cropped up was that of Duterte’s son, Paolo, who immediately denied the accusations.
On Friday, President Duterte promised to resign if the corruption allegation against his son was proven.
“If my son was really into it or is in there, all you have to do is to produce the paper because there are two ways of evidence, oral and documentary,” the President said in his speech in Davao City.
“Just give me an affidavit and I will step down as President of this Republic, and that is my commitment to you now. That is my word,” he added.
Aside from Paolo, four senators were also linked to Dong, the middleman who who dealt with Taguba in the shabu shipment from China.
Dong was a campaign donor of Sen. Joel Villanueva in the 2016 elections while Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto as well as senators Risa Hontiveros, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Francis Pangilinan were his wedding sponsors in 2013.
In separate statements, Zubiri, Hontiveros, Pangilinan and Villanueva confirmed reports that they had connections with Dong.
But all denied knowing his involvement in illegal drugs.