Duterte to open bank accounts; only P27,024 in BPI? ‘Impeachment? I will shut down Congress’
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - April 29, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte yesterday accepted the challenge of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to open his bank accounts.

A document tweeted last night by TV5 reporter Junyee Loyola showed  Duterte’s summary of deposits in the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) branch on Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City from Dec. 31, 2015 to March 31, 2016 amounting to P17,668, and increasing to P27,024.09 by April 29, 2016. Loyola reported that Duterte’s lawyers provided the document.

The document was reportedly presented at a campaign rally in Daet, Camarines Norte.

Duterte said he has allowed his lawyer, Salvador Panelo, to open his bank accounts on Monday at the BPI branch on Julia Vargas Avenue.

“Be there on Monday so that at least Trillanes would know exactly if I have money (in that account),” Duterte told reporters shortly after a lunch meeting with Pasay City officials.

Duterte said he could not be present at the bank as he was going home to Davao City.

“Panelo will be there because he has been my legal counsel for so long,” Duterte said.

According to Duterte, he has called the BPI management to allow Panelo to open his bank accounts so that Trillanes could be informed that he has only “a little less than P211 million,” contrary to what he has been claiming.

Trillanes previously dared Duterte to open his bank accounts to allow the public to know who between them is telling the truth.

Trillanes, who is running for vice president, accused Duterte of having hidden wealth amounting to P211 million stashed at the BPI branch on Julia Vargas Avenue.

On Thursday, Trillanes challenged Duterte to meet him on Monday morning at the BPI branch and sign a waiver on his right to bank secrecy.

Duterte, however, did not categorically state how much is his savings in the bank, following the advice of his lawyer.

But he dared Trillanes to bring his statement under oath or an affidavit that would declare as to when, where and how he got the information on his bank accounts.

“I admit it, there is money there in that account but it is a little less than P211 million,” Duterte said.

No compromise

Trillanes, however, refused to take up Duterte’s challenge to bring an affidavit.

He said Duterte is trying to misdirect the public on the issue.

“He wants me to detail how I got the information. I won’t do that because I won’t compromise the safety of my informants,” Trillanes said.

“Let’s not complicate matters; sign the waiver and prove me wrong. If not, then in the eyes of the people, he is hiding ill-gotten wealth,” he added.

After being informed that Duterte has instructed Panelo to represent him at the BPI Julia Vargas branch and to open his bank accounts there, Trillanes said the entire history of those accounts should be examined and not just the current balances.

Trillanes said he has no doubt that the details he presented to the public regarding the account, particularly the P211 million in deposits made in 2014, would be seen in the records of the bank branch.

“Just to be clear, the opening of the accounts should not be limited to the current account balance alone. It should also include the transaction history for the past nine years,” Trillanes said.

“This is important because if Duterte has already withdrawn the money before Monday, then the total amounts would not be reflected on the current account balance,” he added.

BPI, on the other hand, denied any breach of its banking system following the allegations of Trillanes.

“Our internal investigation reveals that there is no such breach,” BPI corporate communications head Tricia Quiambao said in a statement.

The bank officials refused to issue further statements regarding the Julio Vargas branch and its link to the allegations made by Trillanes against Duterte.

On rumors that the bank’s system has been breached because of Trillanes’ allegations, Manuel Tagaza, senior vice president and head of the electronic channels group of BPI, said, “Not true. All systems are working as we speak.”

Trillanes claimed Duterte held seven joint accounts with his daughter Sara at the BPI Julia Vargas branch, nine joint accounts at the BPI EDSA Greenhills branch and one joint account at Banco de Oro Unibank-1 in Davao City, all from 2006 to 2015.

Trillanes stressed the bank accounts were not included in Duterte’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

He warned Duterte could face impeachment should he become president for failing to disclose all his assets in his SALN.

Shut down Congress

Duterte, on the other hand, said he would be compelled to shut down Congress if an impeachment complaint is filed against him if he gets elected on May 9.

“If I would face impeachment, according to Trillanes, then I might as well shut down Congress so there would be no more impeachment,” he said.

Duterte said he finds no reason why Trillanes should impeach him as he is telling the truth on his reported bank accounts.

He maintained the claims made by Trillanes on his bank accounts do not exist.

Last January, Duterte also warned of a revolutionary government and that he would dissolve Congress if the lawmakers refuse to cooperate with him if he wins the presidency.

“That would be an extreme option. Martial law by its nature is to meet the contingencies of rebellion and invasion. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth to say it,” he said.

“But if Congress will not agree to let go of the money… and if I force the issue and they threaten me with impeachment, then we will have a constitutional crisis. The pillage must stop,” he added.

Asked what would be the fate of Trillanes, Duterte said he would let him stay at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to teach how to launch coups, referring to the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny.

Inconsistencies

Duterte admitted on Wednesday during a sortie in Bataan that he has two bank accounts at the BPI Julia Vargas branch, but said that he only has P17,000 and P50,000, contrary to what Trillanes has claimed.

Later that night, Duterte said his savings account amounts to some P200,000 from different banks, representing his savings from his stint as congressman of Davao City.

But Duterte told reporters in an interview on Friday that he was only confused by the figure “zero,” when asked why he has been inconsistent with his claims.

For example, when asked if the money he got was a gift as claimed by Trillanes, Duterte replied: “What for? I didn’t get it from stealing.”

But when a reporter asked for clarification on whether the money was a gift, he said, “You were the ones who said those things and I told you I have so many friends – it was as if I was leading you on...”

Duterte insisted he has admitted to having bank accounts in different banks, but stressed the amounts are smaller than what Trillanes has been claiming.

He also denied reports that he has bank accounts in Davao City.  

Peter Laviña, Duterte’s spokesman, said Trillanes must bring an affidavit to support his allegations against the mayor.

Laviña said that as soon as Trillanes executes his affidavit and has it notarized, Duterte will authorize the opening of his bank accounts for scrutiny.

“This is in the context of the continuing black propaganda against Mayor Duterte. These are all fabrications. Trillanes is trying to lure or bait the mayor, but as a lawyer, the mayor will not fall into this trap. The burden of proof is on the accuser,” Laviña said.

A lawyer from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said the agency could only subject Duterte to an investigation if the funds channeled to his alleged bank accounts came from illegal sources.

The lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it has to be proven that the money in the bank accounts of Duterte and his daughter came from the “predicate crime” of money laundering.

The lawyer stressed tax evasion is not a predicate crime but the Bureau of Internal Revenue could file tax evasion charges against the Dutertes if it is proven that these are undeclared income.  – Marvin Sy, Ted Torres, Mike Frialde, Lawrence Agcaoili

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