President Duterte struck back at Sen. Antonio Trillanes in his hometown Davao City, calling him a ‘tulisan’ (thief) and corrupting his Senate post by engaging in the “lucrative business” of accepting retainers from lobby groups.
“It is known in the Senate that Trillanes uses his office to ask for retainers and that this has become a lucrative business for him,” the President said.
He issued this statement following accusations from Trillanes that he amassed P2 billion illegally and was deposited in bank accounts of members of his family.
Trillanes last Thursday revived the issue on the alleged bank accounts of Mr. Duterte and his family and showed a list of bank accounts that are named under the President’s children — Davo City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio with P121 million; Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte with P104 million, and Sebastian Duterte with P143 million.
Trillanes likewise alleged that the President’s common-law wife, Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, has P188 million, and a presidential friend, Samuel Uy, P118 million, in bank deposits.
While Trillanes’ accusation is a rehashed issue, Duterte challenged Trillanes to go to court, file the proper case and prove his allegations and if Trillanes is successful, he will immediately quit the presidency.
Mr. Duterte said he would resign immediately if Trillanes can prove his allegation that he amassed P2 billion or if the bank account under his name has a total deposit at one time of even just half a billion (P500 million).
“I advise him further to stop opening his mouth when he has nothing to say anyway,” he added.
The President defended his daughter Sara, who he said has been earning as a lawyer with clients actually paying for her services and “not from illegal retainers which Trillanes is so used to so doing.”
Mr. Duterte said Avancena, who were among those Trillanes accused of having hidden wealth, has also her businesses, a doughnut business and meat supplier in five malls in the city, for the past 18 years.
“Trillanes, you know, Honeylet started her doughnut business 18 years ago. She supplies meat in five malls here in Davao, she supplies pork,” the President said.
Mr. Duterte said Avancena has earned her money through hard work and perseverance. “Not like you, who is too ambitious,” he added.
He further lashed back at Trillanes poking into even the day-to-day banking transactions of Avancena.
“This just shows his ignorance with regard to the banking business, the people who have personal businesses,” he said as he asked Trillanes not to compare his family to him. “Now if your family is hungry then and now, do not include us. We are not as unlucky as your family,” he said.
He added that they were not also poor because his father, the late Vicente Duterte, was governor (when Davao was not yet divided into two provinces) and left them an inheritance. Unlike them, Duterte said what was left with Trillanes were just “hangin at yabang” (air and arrogance).
He also labeled Trillanes as a failure, citing the failed Oakwood mutiny that the senator led years ago.
He said Trillanes is not even afraid to resign because the senator is on his last term and would have nothing to lose if he would resign from office, which explains his penchant for daring him to resign.
Pres. Duterte emphasized the senator has no political career after his term in office expires in less than two years.
The president labeled the issue hurled against him as “old and rehashed” and that he had answered the accusations during the campaign period.
Siblings issue dare
Mr. Duterte’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte also challenged Trillanes to prove his wild allegations.
“If this senator (Trillanes), whose name is not worth mentioning, could prove that I have those millions in the said bank accounts, then I will give them all to the victims of the earthquake in Surigao,” Vice Mayor Duterte said in a statement.
He said Trillanes has been throwing wild accusations against him and the rest of the members of his family.
“He earlier accused me of being a drug user and when I had proven that I am not, now he accuses me of having millions in questionable wealth,” he pointed out.
In the same statement, the vice mayor suggested that Trillanes take a psychiatric test “as something is very very wrong with his mind.”
He also asked the senator to resign from his post, saying: “You resign. Do not make give alibis. You are a useless senator and the people of the Philippines no longer believe in you.”
The previous day, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio also dared Trillanes to prove his claims.
“If Trillanes can show where my alleged P121 million is right now and how it became illegal, let’s get it and we’ll give it all to you,” Mayor Sara said in a statement.
“I never pretended to be what I am not,” Mayor Sara pointed out.
Sara said she is deferring to her father, to answer the challenge of Trillanes.
”Let us allow PRD (the President) to decide on how he wants this issue to go down,” she said.
Meanwhile, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano hit at Trillanes for once again throwing “false accusations” against President Duterte.
In a statement, Cayetano deemed the accusation as another desperate attempt by the senator to stop the reforms that are happening under the Duterte administration.
The senator defended the President against the claims and reminded how, during the campaign, they were the only tandem who signed a bank secrecy waiver to make public all their bank accounts.
Cayetano expressed surprise why Trillanes is trying to revive an issue that had long been settled.
Trillanes urged Duterte anew to disclose his bank records rather than engage in bad-mouthing him.
“I will not answer him back,” the senator said in a text message to reporters regarding the insults he received from the President.
Instead, Trillanes pressed for the full disclosure of Duterte’s bank accounts reiterating that he’s willing to sacrifice his career as a senator if proven wrong.
Trillanes also called on the Office of the Ombudsman to expedite the investigation of the plunder case he filed against the President which he filed in May last year using the same documents that he presented Thursday on the alleged questionable bank transactions of Duterte and his family members.
Trillanes’ colleague, Sen. JV Ejercito, came to the defense of Duterte as he expressed strong reservations on the authenticity of claims of the former that the President has amassed wealth even while he was still Davao City mayor.
Ejercito himself could attest to the fact that Duterte has been always been known to be living a simple life.
In the years that he had come to know the President, Ejercito said there has never been an instance where he and Duterte ate at a fancy restaurant.
“We usually eat at Conching’s sugbaan which is a simple restaurant without even an airconditioner. Then we will eat durian sold on the streets,” he said, referring to a popular food spot in Davao that offers native grilled chicken.
That is why, the senator said, he seriously doubts the claims of his colleague, that Duterte has been keeping huge cash deposits in his supposed undisclosed bank accounts.