PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte called Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th a “coward” for his accusations against his family, which he described as “garbage”, while allies in the Senate described them as “off tangent” and “unsubstantiated.”
In his speech during the 17th founding anniversary of Digos City, Davao del Sur on Friday, Duterte dared Trillanes to prove his claims against him and his eldest son Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
“Ug makadungong mo ug korapsyon sa akong—ako, akong pamilya, ihatag lang ang ebidensya nga dili basura, not the Trillanes garbage [If you heard corruption allegations against me or my family, present evidence that’s not garbage, not the Trillanes garbage],” Duterte said.
“Talawan man na [He (Trillanes) is a coward],” the President added, as he reiterated that he would not allow corruption under his watch.
Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella, without naming Trillanes, lashed out at a lawmaker for presenting baseless claims against the younger Duterte and Manases Carpio, the President’s son-in-law, during the Senate inquiry into corruption at the Bureau of Customs, highlighted by the illegal entry of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” and the “tara” (payoff) to Customs officials and staff on Thursday.
“While nearly all senators showed respect for truth and reason, we caution against a particular one who made baseless claims of purported bank accounts and body markings and then prodded witnesses to disprove his claims instead of presenting validating proofs,” Abella said in a press conference.
“These tactics have been foisted on public and media time and again and the only way to stop this is to demand proof from anyone making baseless claims,” he added.
Nonetheless, Abella thanked the Senate Blue Ribbon Ccommittee that led the investigation for giving the Davao City vice mayor and Carpio a chance to debunk what he called were baseless claims against them.
Meanwhile, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd described Trillanes’ allegation that Duterte belonged to a Chinese drug triad as “off tangent.”
Trillanes claimed that the younger Duterte has a “colored dragon tattoo” on his back which bore “sacred digits” that would indicate which “triad faction” he belonged to and which could be decoded by the United Stated Drug Enforcement Administration.
While Duterte confirmed having a tattoo, he refused to show it.
“Off tangent from the topic of the investigation. Sayang lang oras (It’s a waste of time),” Pimentel said when asked to comment on Trillanes’ attempt to link the younger Duterte to a Chinese drug syndicate.
“We cannot react to unsubstantiated allegations. There are a lot of stories like that in the Internet. You give credence (to these stories) when you react,” Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd.
In response to his colleagues’ comments, Trillanes said he was saddened.
“That’s very unfortunate. Aren’t they interested to know that the son of the President, who is the architect of the bloody war on drugs, is not a member of a drug smuggling syndicate?” Trillanes asked.
“The good thing is, the public saw the evasive demeanor of Paolo Duterte and could simply conclude that the allegations are true. If it is not true why was it that he refused to show his tattoo and declined to sign a bank waiver?” Trillanes said.
Trillanes’s ally, detained Sen. Leila de Lima, said “Polong Duterte and Mans Carpio’s refusal to answer questions directed at them, their arrogant smirks of false bravado, and their not-at-all concealed contempt for the proceedings and its goal to ferret out the truth rank high.”
She was also disappointed seeing Sen. Richard Gordon, committee chairman, “handle them with kid gloves,
almost lawyering for them.”
De Lima is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center on drug charges.
De Lima said the younger Duterte was apparently caught off-guard by Trillanes’ question because he “seemed surprised enough to give a candid answer in the beginning, but suddenly backtracked and claimed his right to privacy.”
with BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO