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Rody threatens to probe ombudsman for graft

President Duterte talks to persons with disabilities belonging to the Our Lady of Victory Training Center during a dinner he hosted at Malacañang on Wednesday. The President handed out P3.2- million aid to the center.

AMLC denies providing report on Rody bank accounts

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte is turning the tables on the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Chief Executive yesterday announced he is forming a commission that will look into the alleged corrupt activities in the anti-graft agency, which has launched a fact-finding probe into the alleged billions that he and his family own – the subject of earlier exposés by opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

“You’ll be investigated also. One of these days, I am sure you will be pursued because of your partiality. If you don’t start investigating yourself, I will set up a commission to investigate you,” Duterte said.

He hinted that ombudsman prosecutors have received bribes from military, police and local officials in exchange for dismissing graft cases.

Angered by the ombudsman’s probe, Duterte said he is ready to give away the alleged P200 million said to be in his bank accounts, if found true. The President, however, denied the reports.

Although there is a separation of the three branches of government, Duterte said that as President, he has the power to call for a probe on the ombudsman.

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“Who will investigate your shenanigans? What is the remedy of the Filipino (people) if you demand (bribes)? Don’t make a fool out of me. Don’t force my hand into it,” Duterte said in an interview aired over state-run PTV4 last night.

Sabihin ang ombudsman walang corruption (You say that there is no corruption in the ombudsman)? Tanungin mo ’yang mga military. Kayong Pilipino, tanungin ninyo magkano binayad nila, police and mayors (Ask the military. You Filipinos, ask them, the police and the mayors, how much they paid the ombudsman). Ask governors, they all paid. After paying, their cases will be dismissed,” Duterte said.

He also took a dig anew at the Liberal Party, although he did not particularly name former president Benigno Aquino III, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Bam Aquino and Kiko Pangilinan and ex-budget secretary Florencio Abad, who are the prominent LP members.

“Are you beholden to the Liberals?” Duterte asked ombudsman officials.


He wondered why no LP member has been charged with graft over the misuse of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), portions of which had been ruled by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

Trillanes yesterday said he felt vindicated by the findings of the ombudsman that the documents about the alleged undeclared wealth of Duterte that he submitted were about the same as what was submitted to the government’s anti-graft and corruption agency by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

AMLC: No report, amounts misleading

The AMLC, however, denied late yesterday that it has provided the ombudsman with a report, adding that the total amounts mentioned in Trillanes’ complaint were “wrong and misleading.”

The AMLC said it has not yet evaluated and acted on the request dated August of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang, which the council received on Sept. 6, to initiate a probe on the alleged Duterte accounts.

“(The AMLC) has neither provided the Office of the Ombudsman with any report as a consequence of any investigation of subject accounts for any purpose,” the council declared in a statement.

“We have categorically stated before that the Anti-Money Laundering Council is not the source of the documents and information attached by Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV in his complaint regarding the alleged bank accounts of President Rodrigo Duterte,” the AMLC said.

 It added: “Suffice it to state that in the attachment of the complaint, the alleged debits and credits representing outflows and inflows of funds were added together, thus, the resulting total amounts are wrong and misleading.”

Still, with the ombudsman’s investigation into the plunder complaint filed by Trillanes against Duterte underway, the senator insisted that he was right all along that the President is “a fraud and a crook.”

“This proves (that) not only my allegations about his billion-peso bank accounts are true but also that Duterte has fooled a lot of people into believing that he is not corrupt,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes has been on a mission to expose the alleged corrupt activities of Duterte and his family, starting from the campaign period for the May 2016 national elections, when he alleged that hundreds of millions in deposits went into various bank accounts the President had kept over the years when he was still mayor of Davao City.

Trillanes said Duterte has been effective in his propaganda about living simply but now people are starting to see through him.

Over P2 billion in credits and deposits were recorded in various bank accounts allegedly maintained by Duterte either singly or with members of his family, according to the senator.

These, he said, were not campaign funds because the records he received dated to periods as early as 2003.

Part of the complaint filed by Trillanes against Duterte was based on the findings of the Commission on Audit that 11,000 ghost employees were maintained by the city government of Davao when he was still mayor, which allegedly cost the government some P600 million annually.

“Then there is the smuggling, illegal gambling, illegal mining protection racket, his involvement in the illegal shipment of drugs because the port of Davao is being used as a transshipment point,” Trillanes said.

If the President still insists that the allegations against him are false, Trillanes reiterated his challenge for Duterte to sign a waiver on the secrecy of bank deposits and bare all of his accounts to the public.

“The only way for him to disprove this is to sign a waiver or else he should resign. So sign or resign,” Trillanes said.

‘Real crook’

Meanwhile, in a statement yesterday, Sen. Leila de Lima said AMLC records received by the ombudsman showed that Duterte is the real crook and not her as he had alleged.

De Lima recalled how the President and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II promised to expose AMLC records of her bank transactions amounting to P10 billion, which they claimed were from the illegal drug trade.

“For almost a year, and despite all the powers wielded by the President of the Republic, Duterte and his secretary of justice are still not able to show a single centavo of AMLC bank transaction records to prove that drug money flowed into my bank accounts. Not even one peso,” De Lima said.

With the latest developments, she said Duterte should retract his allegations against her.

Elated

“I challenge him to waive the secrecy of his bank accounts to prove that he has nothing to hide. It was he who has repeatedly declared that he won’t tolerate corruption, and that he would resign if there is proof of corruption on his part or on the part of any member of his family,” Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said.

Alejano filed the first impeachment complaint against Duterte, which the House of Representatives dismissed in May, insulating the President from any further impeachment process for one year.

The former Marine captain expressed elation over the ombudsman’s probe on the complaint of Trillanes, another Magdalo member.

Alejano’s impeachment complaint was based largely on Trillanes’ revelations about the President’s supposed illegally acquired assets.

Alejano said the House wasted its opportunity to give the President a forum to answer the charges against him by precipitately dismissing his complaint.

“Duterte has all along been hiding his wealth and deceiving the people. His lies are now being exposed one by one,” he said.

Sara welcomes probe

Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio yesterday said she welcomes the ombudsman’s investigation on the President and his family’s alleged hidden wealth amounting to billions of pesos.

“I welcome it so that we can finally answer all accusations in the proper venue. Thank you,” Duterte-Carpio said in a statement released by the City Information Office.

The President has repeatedly denied having billions in bank deposits.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has inhibited herself from the probe, as the husband of the mayor, lawyer Manases Carpio, is her nephew.

For his part, presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo yesterday expressed belief that the ombudsman’s probe will be for naught since Duterte has no hidden wealth.

“There is no hidden wealth. There may be hidden poverty,” Panelo said.

“The President is already used to persistent tirades of his detractors, most especially Senator Trillanes,” Panelo added, stressing that the senator has failed to substantiate his allegation.  –  With Mary Grace Padin, Marvin Sy, Jess Diaz, Edith Regalado

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