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Trillanes says AMLC seems to be defending Duterte

This photo taken on September 13, 2017, shows Philippine Senator Antonio smiling during an interview at his office in the Senate building in Manila. After launching his political career from a jail cell, Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes believes it could end in a grave thanks to a relentless campaign against his "hitman" president. AFP/Noel Celis, file

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV questioned the authenticity of the statement of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, saying it sounded like a defense and absolution of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The opposition senator was reacting to the central bank's watchdog, which on Thursday night released a statement denying it providing the Office of the Ombudsman a report in connection with the alleged bank accounts of the chief executive containing millions of pesos.

According to the senator, instead of issuing unnecessary statements, the AMLC should hasten its final report on the alleged questionable bank accounts that Duterte co-owned with his children. He said the public deserves to know the truth behind the accusations.

"The supposed AMLC statement is improper in its necessity for release and in its tenor, which sounded like the AMLC was defending and absolving Duterte," he said in a statement sent to the media.

The AMLC on Thursday evening denied that it was the source of the report on the alleged bank transaction history of the chief executive from before he became president in 2006 up to 2016.

Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang said that the president's accounts had millions based on the report his office got from the AMLC.

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According to the AMLC, although it received Carandang's request for a probe into the accounts on Sept. 6, it is yet to evaluate and act on this requisition.

"It (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 AMLC said in a statement.

Alejano skeptical

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said that the release of the AMLC clarification was an answer to his question about the credibility of the agency following the appointment of a "buddy" of the president.

"I think the recent action of AMLC is already giving away the answer," the Magdalo representative said, without identifying the said presidential pal.

He also described the timing of the release of the statement, its lack of a signatory and date and the contradictory statements it contained.

"t is quite odd to note that AMLC issued a statement in the evening, past working hours, and not even with a date and signatory, as if it was made in a hurry," he said. "Second, according to the statement, an evaluation is yet to be done. However, on the same statement, a conclusion was already given."

Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Thursday warned the body against divulging the details of the president's bank accounts, saying that the records compiled for law enforcement purposes should not be made public while proceedings are ongoing.

The premature disclosure of these bank details "deprives a person of a right to a fair trial," Panelo said, "reminding" Carandang of the possibility of facing administrative sanctions with this action.

The Rules Implementing the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees warns against disclosing official information or records to the public if it contains investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes.

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