MANILA, Philippines - His accuser is engaged in a “lucrative business” of collecting retainer from certain individuals and is in no position to raise a “rehashed” corruption issue against him, President Duterte said yesterday, referring to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
In a televised message, Duterte turned the tables on Trillanes, whom he accused of using his position as a senator to enrich himself purportedly in anticipation of the end of his political career.
On Thursday, Trillanes held a press briefing where he again raised his campaign period accusation that Duterte and his family had amassed P2 billion in illegally acquired wealth.
“If Trillanes can prove his allegation that I have amassed P2 billion illegally or if that bank account under my name has a total deposit at one time of even just half a billion, I will resign as President immediately,” Duterte said.
“It is known in the Senate that Trillanes uses his office to ask for retainers and this has become a lucrative business for him,” he said without elaborating.
“Sen. Trillanes is on his last term and would have nothing to lose if he would resign from office, which explains his penchant for always daring the President to resign,” Duterte said.
He called Trillanes a tulisan (brigand) determined to destroy his administration with an “old issue” that he had already addressed before he won the presidential race.
The President said Trillanes was making noises possibly out of desperation over his waning political fortunes. The senator is on his last term as senator.
“This is actually an old and rehashed issue. I have answered this allegation before I became president. The people have already spoken; they have placed me in the office with 16 million votes,” Duterte stressed.
What Trillanes should do, the President said, is to go to the courts and file appropriate case and “to stop opening his mouth when he has nothing to say anyway.”
The President also defended his partner Honeylet Avanceña and his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte from allegations they have millions in their bank accounts.
Duterte said Avanceña runs a donut business and supplies meat to five malls in Davao City. He added that Sara, a lawyer, receives fees from clients.
“(It’s) amusing how Trillanes came up with his accounting. He even included day to day banking transaction of my partner Honeylet. This just shows his ignorance with regard to the revenue and banking business,” the President said.
“He must have also forgotten that my daughter Sara is a lawyer by profession and that she earns from this and she has clients who actually pay for her services and not from illegal retainers which Trillanes is so used to doing,” he added.
Contrary to Trillanes’ pronouncement, Duterte said he had never claimed to be poor, as his father – a former governor – had left him some inheritance.
“Ikaw? Anong naiwan sa iyo? Hangin pati yabang. Tulisan ka sa totoo lang. (How about you? What did they leave you with? All air and boastfulness; you’re a brigand, to tell you frankly),” he said.
Duterte also mocked Trillanes’ participation in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.
“May mutiny-mutiny ka pa wala ka naman palang bayag. Taas agad ang kamay pagdating ng pulis. Nakakahiya ka sa totoo lang (You dared stage a mutiny but you turned out to have no balls. You quickly came out with hands up when the police arrived. You’re an embarrassment),” the President said.
“Ngayon kung ang pamilya mo gutom noon o ngayon huwag mo kami isali. Di kami kasingmalas sa pamilya mo (If your family is hungry, don’t involve us. We are not as unfortunate as your family),” he added.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella clarified Duterte was trying to justify his financial status when he said in his video rebuttal of Trillanes that he was not poor.
“As a child growing up, the President did not experience a lavish lifestyle. It is noteworthy to mention that the Dutertes moved from the Visayas to Davao,” Abella said.
“His father, Vicente Duterte, became governor of the then unified province of Davao. When governor Duterte died, he left an inheritance to his children,” he added.
Trillanes’ failure to prove the accusation he raised against Duterte during the campaign has left him with no credibility to raise the same issue at present, Abella pointed out.
“He is not credible. As far I know, it’s not to be given that kind of attention that he wants, that he craves for,” he said.
“File appropriate cases. We challenge him to do that. Let him file a case. Why has he not filed any case if it is true?” chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a TV interview. – With Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero