Sen. Trillanes pursues ‘hidden wealth’ accusation vs. Mayor Duterte

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Armed with an affidavit as a condition imposed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV showed up at Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) Julia Vargas branch, Pasig City 11 am, April 2 but still failed to get a waiver from the Mayor to disprove allegations of PHP 2.4 billion “hidden wealth,” including the PHP 211 million deposit in the said bank.

“I have the affidavit, but there was no waiver,” stressed Trillanes who called Duterte a “coward.”
This time, the tough-talking Mayor wanted all the other presidential candidates to sign a waiver and open all their bank accounts to the public.

Although he was open to showing “all” of his bank transactions during the past 30 years, Duterte insisted all other candidates must be compelled to open all their accounts, too.

“Why just me? What am I, their errand boy? We’re all running for president, why should it be just me?” Duterte asked.

Trillanes, who is running for vice-president, earlier challenged Duterte to sign a waiver to open his bank accounts. He accused the Mayor of concealing PHP 211 million in undeclared funds in his account which he did not declare in his 2014 SALN.

The Senator also said Duterte stashed away around PHP 2.4 billion in at least four banks nationwide to keep his undeclared funds.

Duterte had earlier told Trillanes he will sign a waiver only if the Senator brings with him a formal affidavit detailing how he got the information about his alleged bank accounts, when he got them and his sources.

Duterte, seeking the presidency under PDP-Laban, was represented by his lawyer Salvador Panelo who met Trillanes in the bank on the said date of the “face-off.”

During their meeting, Trillanes said he was informed by Panelo that they can ask the bank to produce only the balances of the accounts under the Mayor’s name, but without transaction history to show prior withdrawals.

Duterte only issued a special power of attorney (SPA) for Panelo. Copies of the SPA given by Panelo to the BPI branch showed Duterte had only requested the bank to issue a certification that there was never a deposit “either singly or collectively of Two Hundred Eleven Million Pesos” as claimed by Trillanes in BPI Savings Account No. 2433-0695-39.

Trillanes immediately left the bank after being told by Panelo that he was not authorized by Duterte to issue a waiver for the opening of his bank accounts to include the transaction history.

Before leaving, the senator blurted out to reporters that Duterte’s “macho” response that he will show his bank transactions was just a “farce.”

“As expected, Duterte chickened out. He’s scared of the truth,” Trillanes said.

“They didn’t show anything … they didn’t show anything. I told them, ‘Here’s my affidavit. So you said on record that they would sign a waiver.’ But they did not bring a waiver. They don’t really have any intention to open these [bank accounts],” Trillanes added.

In an affidavit that he gave to Duterte’s camp as a condition to release his bank records, Trillanes disclosed he got the information about the mayor’s millions from a certain Joseph de Mesa—a former Duterte supporter.

“Mr. De Mesa said he got hold of documents from a close relative who was working with an agency involved in investigating ill-gotten wealth of government officials,” he added.

“I asked the help of accountants and finance specialists to tally and figure out just how much money was actually deposited and/or transferred into the bank accounts. Their final tally shows that a total of PHP 2,407,272,103.75 went into the bank accounts from 2006 to 2015,” said the Senator.

Duterte earlier debunked Trillanes’ expose about his deposits in the BPI Julia Vargas branch, but later acknowledged he had a joint account with daughter Sara, who also served as Davao mayor.

He also admitted the deposits in that bank account amounted to “a little less than PHP 211 million,” saying they were were deposits from his many friends.

He insisted there is no need to disclose the entire history of his bank account to prove he has no undeclared wealth.

He also questioned how Trillanes got the documents, saying banks are prohibited by the Bank Secrecy Law to divulge the financial records of their clients. But the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) confirmed Duterte’s evidence did not come from them.

“The fact alone that there is such a law, no banking officer, no banking employee can issue that because they will be subjected to criminal prosecution. This will already tell us that the documents being provided by this Trillanes is coming from a reliable source,” explained Panelo.

In an interview, the Senator said the least that Duterte’s camp could do was present a transaction history of the bank accounts, including the account at BPI Julia Vargas branch, to dispel his claim that the Mayor has PHP 2.4 billion in the bank accounts.

“We can see here that Mayor Duterte is only brave in words, but in truth, he is a coward,” pointed out Trillanes..

He said Duterte cannot counter his accusations. If my accusations are wrong, he can charge me. He was cowed by the truth,” he said further.

Trillanes, who supports the candidacy of Sen. Grace Poe, said that voters rooting for Duterte should already think twice.

Reacting on Duterte’s failure to issue a waiver, another presidential aspirant, Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas said the Mayor can run, but he cannot hide from truth.

He said Duterte can use all legal maneuverings to cover up the real amount of money in his alleged secret bank accounts but the truth will eventually come out.

If Duterte were really sincere, the formed interior secretary said he could simply show his bank statements being issued monthly to account holders.

The former Interior secretary also hit the tough-talking Mayor for being a pretentious leader, promising to fight stealing in government without pushing for any anti-graft and corruption measures.

“The people deserve real leadership, not a leadership only in words. What did you do Mayor Duterte? Zero,” said Roxas.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. described as absurd Duterte’s statement that President Benigno Aquino III and the Palace were behind the character assassination against him.

“The allegation is absurd and unfounded. This is pure speculation,” he said.

Duterte said he believed Malacañang was behind the alleged exposé against him by Trillanes. He urged the voters not to believe Trillanes.

“I took him for a ride because I wanted him to execute an affidavit,” Duterte said.

“If he signs an affidavit stating that this is my account and the amount deposited, I will file a case.” (MCA)