SEN. Antonio Trillanes 4th on Thursday tried to link Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte to an alleged Chinese triad involved in smuggling illegal drugs in Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China.
“No way,” bellowed the President’s son, when dared by Trillanes during a Senate inquiry to show the tattoo on his back, which the lawmaker said was evidence of Duterte’s membership in the triad.
Trillanes was at first able to make Duterte admit that he indeed had a tattoo on his back.
But when the senator asked if it was a colored, dragon-like tattoo, the vice mayor refused to answer and invoked his “right to privacy.”
Duterte also refused to show his tattoo, even in private, when asked repeatedly by Trillanes.
“Mister Chair, ilang beses ko ba sasagutin na ayaw ko (how many times will I answer that I don’t want to)?” he said.
The senator claimed to have obtained the information from a foreign intelligence source, which he did not disclose. Trillanes said he would only do so in a closed-door session.
Later, Trillanes said a number on Duterte’s supposed tattoo could be decoded by the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
“The proof of his (Vice Mayor Duterte’s) membership is the tattoo on his back. That would explain everything…that is the physical evidence of his membership in the triad,” Trillanes said in the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.
Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Gordon, who had crossed swords with Trillanes in a previous hearing, reminded his colleagues to be careful with their allegations and refrain from abusing the witnesses.
“The chair would like to request respectfully that we should not make allegations here without any basis because triad is a very serious allegation and we should not abuse any of the witnesses here,” Gordon said, to which Trillanes agreed.
Trillanes then presented a list of accounts from different banks such as the Philippine National Bank and Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., which according to him, belonged to the vice mayor or Carpio.
The two invoked their right to privacy.
Rainier Madrid, legal counsel of the vice mayor, in a separate interview said Trillanes was on a fishing expedition and had been using “lies” to manipulate people’s perceptions on the President.
“That is Trillanes’ propaganda. He failed to hit President Rodrigo Duterte before. Now, he is hitting him through his son via black propaganda,” Madrid said.
As for the tattoo, the lawyer said he advised the younger Duterte not to show the tattoo even if the latter wanted to.
Madrid said he could not allow his client to be exposed on the basis of a “silly” accusation.
“He (Trillanes) is not accusing, he is fishing, he is fishing information because he doesn’t have information,” he said.
Asked if they have plans to sue the senator, Madrid said no, because exposing Trillanes as a hoax and “propagandist” was enough.
“He always refers to [intelligence]which is unvalidated. It is never admitted in court. He can’t even show his intel report,” he said.