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Duterte claims Trillanes closed Singapore bank account online

President Rodrigo Duterte shows a matrix of supposed offshore bank accounts of Sen. Sonny Trillanes, his political nemesis, on a show on public television PTV. PPD/Richard Madelo

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:33 p.m.; First published at Sept. 29 at 8:58 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday made a fresh allegation against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, claiming that the lawmaker closed his Singapore bank account before he flew to the island-nation and disproved the presidential accusation.

Trillanes meanwhile labeled the latest accusation as another of the president's "inventions" and vowed to sign bank waivers on Monday to allow the probe into his alleged offshore accounts.

According to Duterte, Trillanes closed his account with DBS Alexandria at past 10 p.m. on September 8, days before he flew to Singapore with reporters on September 19 and was told by a teller that account 178000296012 did not exist.

The president later admitted that he invented this account number supposedly to trick the senator.

READ:  Trillanes: Account numbers checked at DBS Bank came from Duterte, Tulfo

The chief executive said that the opposition senator closed his account through the internet and showed a screen shot of the transaction as proof.

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"Below is the screen shot of the DBS Alexandria account. Termination of Trillanes and where he sent the funds. He terminated it online on Sept. 8, 2017 past 10 p.m. then left for Singapore after that to show his waiver to the bank teller dun sa Singapore na wala siyang account," the chief executive said in an interview with public broadcaster PTV-4.

The opposition senator said that Duterte's latest pronouncement was just an "obvious diversion from his billion peso bank accounts that were confirmed by the ombudsman."

"Nonetheless, first thing on Monday, I would sign waivers for these accounts so that the AMLC can look into and examine them," said the senator whose case before the ombudsman led the anti-graft agency to launch a fact-finding probe into the bank accounts that Duterte allegedly co-owned with his children.

"Wala ng drama kasi wala akong tinatago," he said.

READ:  'Checkmate ka na,' Trillanes tells Duterte

Trillanes also has a challenge for the president.

"What about you, Mr. Duterte, kelan ka magpapakalalaki at pipirma ng waivers?" said the staunch presidential critic.

Could the bank account be closed online?

A review of the procedure for the closing of a DBS bank account in Singapore, however, suggests that it cannot be simply done over the internet.

It is the banking company's policy for the owner of the account to visit the branch where it was opened or to fill up a form that will authorize the account closure. The form is required to be sent by mail and it will take up to 45 days upon receipt for the bank to shut down the account.

The official DBS Twitter account which addresses customers' queries also confirmed the procedure in a few tweets.

String of accusations

Duterte also revealed that Trillanes  and his group may be using the money they were allegedly laundering to destabilize the government based on the information from the government's intelligence agencies.

The laundered funds were being used to finance protests and witnesses against the government, the president said.

The senator was maintaining several bank accounts with small deposits to avoid the scrutiny of the Anti-Money Laundering Council which is required to look into transactions involving P500,000 or more, according to the president.

"Pero kokonti lang. Kokonti-konting deposito lang. Cayman Branch meron siya pero 58, 42, 32 maliliit e. Pero marami oh," the chief executive claimed without specifying the denominations of the money.

The president also claimed that an amount of 200,000 Singapore dollars was transferred by Trillanes to a certain Fabian Go after the closure of his alleged DBS account.

When asked about the country providing him the information, the president said, "Isa lang. Galit yan sa money laundering."

The president also showed visuals demonstrating the flow of money from the senator's alleged accounts to those of his co-depositors.

Duterte also accused Trillanes of corruption in the Senate by asking a certain number of allotment of casual employees from his colleagues, a practice which is an open secret in the chamber.

"Humihingi siya ng mga tao sa mga senador. 'Bigyan mo nga ako ng dalawa para sa akin.' That's an open secret. Yung mga senador mismo kinukunan niya ng mga tao para sa kanya," Duterte told broadcaster Erwin Tulfo, the brother of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.

He is also soliciting money from rich people and businessmen especially those actively involved in politics, according to the president.

"Kung magtanong ka sa mga mayayaman dito at malalaki tanungin mo sasabihin sa'yo. Lalo na yung mga businessmen na nakikihalo minsan sa pulitika," the president claimed.

Battling over bank accounts

The president and the senator have been engaging in an exchange of accusations over hidden bank accounts containing millions of pesos.

Last year, at the height of the presidential election campaign, Trillanes accused then Mayor Duterte of owning P211 million in a Bank of the Philippine Islands account in Julia Vargas, Pasig City.

The president denied this and issued a legal document allowing his lawyer to receive documents pertaining to his account's details.

The senator has also accused the president's son and son in law of owning several local accounts containing hundreds of millions of pesos.

Then, Duterte turned the tables on Trillanes and claimed that he had offshore accounts in several countries.

Trillanes went to Singapore early this month to disprove the allegation that he had an account there, which Duterte admitted to have invented. — with a report by Camille Diola

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