MANILA – “Categorically” declaring he does not own “even a single offshore account,” Sen.Antonio Trillanes IV said Sunday he will issue a waiver of bank secrecy to allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to check the supposed accounts spread in at least three countries that President Rodrigo Duterte claims he owns.
The senator said he can even “invite a fact-finding team of the Office of the Ombudsman, and kung may media na kasama, pupunta kami sa isang bangko at magwo-walk in. At titignan…kung may account ako or hindi [and if there are mediamen ava ilable, we could all walk into a bank and check if I indeed have an account or not].”
Trillanes said, in an interview with radio DZBB, that he would go the extra mile to prove that Duterte’s allegations, unleashed in a speech at the Mindanao Business Conference late Saturday, are all “lies.”
The President had said that in the next few days he will release full details of Trillanes’ supposed secret wealth stashed in accounts in China, Australia and the US, among others, to prove the senator is a hypocrite who denounces corruption but has dirty hands himself.
Duterte made the remarks two days after his chief critic used a Senate Blue Ribbon hearing on corruption at Customs and the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling to air his latest attacks on the First Family. Trillanes told the Blue Ribbon he had “intelligence from a foreign country” that Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, the President’s eldest son, was a member of a Chinese Triad, and this accounts for the ease with which shabu is easily entering the Philippines.
Duterte, who heeded a Blue Ribbon invitation together with brother-in-law Manases Carpio, earlier admitted he had a tattoo on his back, but balked at showing it when Trillanes revealed his “intel” about the vice mayor’s alleged Triad membership. When Trillanes kept bugging him to show the tattoo, he invoked his privacy rights and at one point blurted out, “no way!”
In the same hearing, Trillanes confronted the vice mayor and Carpio about sum totals of banks accounts they allegedly kept, in the millions, but the two men rejected his dare for them to issue a waiver on bank secrecy.
On Saturday, at the MinBizCon, the President said he had evidence that Trillanes himself had secret wealth stashed abroad.
Trillanes called it “fake news”. On Sunday morning, he categorically declared, “sinasabi kong wala akong account. I don’t own even a single offshore account. Last time naka pag-open ako ng account sa bangko, ay yung bago pa ako nakulong [Last time I opened an account was way before I got detained], Trillanes said. As a Navy officer who led the 1993 Oakwood mutiny, he was detained for seven years, but later won election to the Senate.
Trillanes said Sunday morning, “I wouldn’t even remember how to open an account,” but added, “Don’t take my word for it. Ito yung detalyeng ibibigay niya, and I’ll sign a waiver.”
He said he would “take it that far” to disprove the administration’s allegations, “para mapatunayan na singungaling itong si President Duterte [I’ll do that just to prove what a liar this President is].”
The AMLC, he noted, has access to international accounts. “Itong waiver na bibigay natin sa [This waiver that I’ll give to] AMLC will allow them to look into that. They can coordinate with FATF,” referring to the Paris-based watchdog against money-laundering, the Financial Action Task Force.
The AMLC, Trillanes added, can also do forensics on the supposed accounts, i.e., when were these were opened, who opened them, and the circumstances of opening.
He said once the work of the AMLC is over and he can get bank cerfications that he does not own the accounts in question, “Ibabalandra ko iyan (certifications), isasampal ko iyan sa mukha ng presidente [I will wave the certifications and slap them on his face].”
When asked to comment on the presumption that the President, given his high office, has access to superior intelligence, Trillanes played this down and said he had information this was all a product of fabrication. “Kilala ko na yung gumawa (ng fabrication) from the Office of the President, PMA-er ito [I know the author of this fabrication; he’s with the OP and he’s a PMA graduate].”
He described the operation as “so sloppily done. Sa isang upisina lang.” He believes the operation was simply meant to distract him and stop him from pursuing his questions regarding Paolo’s alleged involvement in drug smuggling.
He noted that when he mentioned the Triad membership at the Blue Ribbon hearing, Paolo Duterte did not categorically make a denial. “Hindi siya kumibo [He said nothing],” and only spoke up again to reject his dare for the vice mayor to show his back tattoo.
Paolo had repeatedly said there was no use dignifying with answers allegations that are baseless and hearsay.