REFUSING to sign waivers to open his bank deposits, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday instead accused Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th of laundering money through joint bank accounts with Chinese individuals, citing information from a foreign government.
And because Trillanes’ deposits were supposedly in joint accounts, the senator’s waivers were worthless, unless his co-depositors did the same.
It was the latest in the back-and-forth between the President and Trillanes that goes back to May 2016 presidential campaign. After Trillanes sought to link the President’s son and son-in-law to smuggling at Customs, Duterte on September 9 vowed to expose Trillanes’ overseas bank accounts.
On Monday, Trillanes threatened to file libel cases against pro-Duterte personalities who posted “fake news” about his supposed overseas accounts, pointing out that two banks mentioned – Nova Scotia Bank and Hongkong Shanghai Bank – were non-existent.
Trillanes signed 12 waivers allowing the scrutiny of his bank accounts and challenged Duterte to do the same.
At the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Tuesday night, the President said he would not indulge Trillanes.
“If you want to get evidence, don’t get it from my mouth. If Trillanes wants to find something of fault with me, tell him [he can]go somewhere else and fly a kite. Even if it is true or false, why would I give him the pleasure?” Duterte said after visiting a soldier’s wake.
“If he wants to look for something, then he should go looking around. Why would he drag me into it? I had to go lengths, appeal to contacts [to get his bank records]. And I think if I were not the President. I would not be able to get that,” Duterte added.
The President then said the senator’s bank waivers to allow the Ombudsman and the Anti-Money Laundering Council to examine his bank accounts were useless.
“Even if he signed a waiver, if the co-signer does otherwise, it’s useless. The bank would never, never name who is the partner [of Trillanes]. But we have obtained his bank records, a foreign government supplied that,” Duterte said.
Trillanes, however, split the money into several accounts to avoid the red flag on deposits of at least P500,000, he claimed.
“But definitely, the amount he is depositing is less than the amount which will raise the red flag, which is P500,000. He knows what to do and has perfected the art of crime. It would be enough for the people to know that he has so many bank accounts. He’s at risk of being prosecuted by the US government. He better watch out,” Duterte said.
The Bank Secrecy Law states that “deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines, including investments in bonds issued by the Government of the Philippines, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities, are hereby considered as of an absolutely confidential nature and may not be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office, except upon written permission of the depositor.”
Exceptions to the confidentiality of bank deposits include cases of impeachment and cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of litigation.
Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the waiver Duterte signed during the 2016 campaign, when Trillanes accused the former Davao City mayor of keeping P2 billion in secret deposits, remained valid.
“About the challenge of Trillanes to the President for the latter to execute a waiver on his bank account, the same has been done a long time ago particularly in the first week of May 2016 with the BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) as regards his allegation that President Rodrigo Duterte has PHP 211 million in his savings account. The waiver remains valid,” Panelo said in a text message.