MALACAÑANG on Thursday brushed aside Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th’s bid to revive allegations during the 2016 election campaign that President Rodrigo Duterte had more than P2.4 billion in bank accounts.
In a news conference, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella dismissed Trillanes’ claims as a “rehash,” saying the issue had been previously addressed.
“This is a rehash of something that he brought up about three days before elections and it’s been properly addressed. Basically, he’s bringing up old issues,” Abella said.
“He seems to be creating unnecessary noise. For whatever reason, we do not know. And I think we should leave it at that, unless he can come up with something truly serious,” he added.
Trillanes, who alleged during the election campaign last year that Duterte made P2.407 billion in bank transactions until 2015, on Thursday morning renewed his challenge for the President to prove him wrong by baring his bank transaction history.
Trillanes also released to the media several documents supposedly containing information about Duterte’s undeclared bank accounts as well as those of members of the President’s family.
Sara, Honeylet’s ‘millions’
In one of the documents presented by Trillanes, bank accounts under the names of Duterte and his daughter Sara Zimmerman Duterte at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Julia Vargas and EDSA Greenhills branches recorded deposits or transfers amounting to P2.201 billion from 2006 to 2015.
“I am reiterating my challenge to President Duterte to release the transaction history of his bank accounts and if my allegations were proven wrong, I would immediately resign as senator,” Trillanes said.
The senator distributed copies of supposed bank transaction records of Sara, the Davao City mayor, amounting to P121 million; Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, P104 million; Sebastian Duterte, P143.4 million; and Duterte’s partner Cielito “Honeylet” Salvador Avanceña, P186 million.
Trillanes also presented a document indicating that some members of the Duterte family received a total of P118 million from Samuel “Sammy” Uy, a campaign contributor of the President.
The senator said he wanted to show the people and the “die-hard” supporters of Duterte that the President is not the “simple” man he is trying to project.
Abella told Trillanes to go to the proper authorities and do “more constructive things” instead.
He said Duterte was “focused on nation building” and would not be distracted by the senator’s latest action.
Abella also belied Trillanes’ claim that the President was planning to kill him, saying the senator was being “very dramatic.”
‘Up to the bank’
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo also dismissed as “fake” and a “rehash” Trillanes’ claims that Duterte had more than P2 billion in banks.
Releasing Duterte’s transaction history is a matter that only the bank can decide, he said.
“You must remember that the document signed by the President was authorizing the bank to reveal his account. So the ball is on the bank to do it, not on the President’s,” Panelo told reporters.
He noted that Duterte had signed a waiver authorizing the BPI to open his bank accounts. He insisted that the waiver was still valid.
The President’s lawyer stressed that Trillanes’ documents had been declared by BPI to be fake.
“You lie on one, you lie on all,” Panelo said.
Duterte’s daughter Sara said she would give away the money if Trillanes could show where it was and that it was obtained illegally.
“If Trillanes can show where my alleged P121 million is right now and how it became illegal, let’s get the money and I’ll give it all to you,” the Davao City mayor said in a statement.
“Wala akong postura labas sa kung ano ang nakikita ng lahat [I have no pretensions aside from what everyone sees]. I never pretended to be what I am not,” she added.
Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 polls, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, called Trillanes the “Kuryente King” (King of Hoaxes).
“From the start, he only wants to criticize. But you need facts. You need evidence. You need concrete evidence if you are accusing somebody,” Cayetano said.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE