By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent
The Davao City Mayor and daughter of President Duterte, Sara Duterte-Carpio, went ballistic when Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV filed Senate Resolution No. 602 asking the committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies to conduct a formal inquiry into the alleged unexplained wealth of the President and his family.
Duterte-Carpio said this confirms rumors that Trillanes, arch-critic of the President, is hooked on a drug of some kind that “disrupted his sanity, destroyed his dreams and triggered his obsession with President Duterte.”
Citing a recent report from news organization Vera Files, Trillanes claimed that the Duterte father and daughter might have violated Republic Act No. 9160, also known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act, for failing to “fully disclose” in their respective statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) for the past years alleged money exceeding PHP 100 million in joint deposits and investments under the Bank of the Philippine Islands.
“As the highest-ranking official of the land, President Rodrigo Duterte and Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as the elected City Mayor of Davao City are classified by the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) as ‘politically exposed persons’ under the law and its implementing regulations,” Trillanes said in his resolution.
But the Davao City mayor said “Trillanes is lying. I feel sad for Trillanes and his tireless attempt to re-hash and recycle an issue that has already been proven as gossip. The Senator cannot file a case because there is no basis for it,” Duterte’s daughter added in a message distributed to reporters, “I have said this before and I am saying it again – Trillanes is lying. He has the penchant for parading his star witnesses in the Senate and yet he cannot even produce Joseph De Mesa, who, according to his affidavit, was his source of information,” Duterte-Carpio said.
“He also says the AMLC is the source of his documents and yet he twits President Duterte for not executing a waiver for AMLC. So how come he has a copy of a purported AMLC document without the waiver?” she added.
Senate leaders, however, showed lack of interest with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III calling it a “tragic waste” of time although stressing he would not stop any probe.
Trillanes has long harped about Duterte failing to disclose his wealth going back to his time as mayor of Davao City prior to winning the presidency in May 2016. Duterte has repeatedly denied wrong-doing and promised to resign if any is proven.
Duterte sparred repeatedly with Trillanes. Last year, Duterte alleged that the Senator had secret overseas bank accounts and read out the account number of one on live television. Duterte later admitted, however, that he had deliberately read out a false account number but did not say why.
Trillanes’ Senate colleagues said any probe on Duterte’s bank accounts would likely go nowhere. The biggest stumbling block to such a probe would be the Bank Secrecy Law, they said.
Pimentel even questioned Trillanes’ motive in seeking an investigation, noting the latter tried to pin down former Davao City Vice-mayor Paolo Duterte and Sara’s husband lawyer Manasses Carpio in previous legislative probes on other allegations.
“Now it’s the same thing against other members of the Duterte family. If (Trillanes) really has the evidence, then he should bring an actual case to the proper body,” Pimentel told reporters.
“But if this is part of just making this issue land in the news then this (inquiry) should not be allowed. It will be a tragic waste of time of the Senate,” he said.
Trillanes said his filing of the resolution was a “direct response” to Duterte’s challenge for Congress to investigate his bank accounts.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson wondered about the point of the inquiry when apparently no predicate crime has been committed that is supposed to trigger an AMLC probe.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said it would be better if the committee would first consider working on amendments to the Bank Secrecy Law.