PRESIDENTIAL candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte reneged on his promise Monday to open his bank account at the BPI branch on Julia Vargas in Pasig City to scrutiny, amid allegations by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV that he had P211 million deposited there that was not declared in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
Instead of a waiver that would have allowed the opening of his account, Duterte issued a special power of attorney for the bank to issue a certification that he didn’t have P211 million in his account.
Trillanes and Duterte’s lawyer, Salvador Panelo, were supposed to meet at the bank branch to make public the contents of his joint account with his daughter Sara.
But Trillanes, who was first to leave the BPI branch, blurted out to reporters that Duterte’s “macho” response that he will show his bank transactions were just a “farce.”
“As expected, Duterte chickened out... he’s scared of the truth,” Trillanes said in Filipino as he left the bank.
In a television interview with GMA News’ Balitanghali minutes after he left, Trillanes said Duterte’s condition for opening the account was for the senator to issue an affidavit detailing his accusations against him.
“They didn’t show anything ... they didn’t show anything. I told them, ‘Here’s my affidavit. So you said on record that they would sign a waiver.’ But they did not bring a waiver. They don’t really have any intention to open these [bank accounts],” Trillanes said.
Copies of the special power of attorney given by the Duterte camp to the BPI branch showed that the mayor had only requested the bank to issue a certification that there was never a deposit “either singly or collectively of Two Hundred Eleven Million Pesos” as claimed by Trillanes in BPI Savings Account No. 2433-0695-39.
In an affidavit that he gave to the camp of Mayor Duterte as a condition to release his bank records, Trillanes disclosed that he got the information about Duterte’s millions from a certain Joseph de Mesa—a former Duterte supporter.
“Mr. De Mesa said he decided to withdraw his support for Mayor Duterte when he saw documents showing that the Mayor maintained numerous bank accounts where hundreds of millions if not billions of pesos were deposited/transferred over the years,” Trillanes’ affidavit read.
“Mr. De Mesa said he got hold of documents from a close relative who was working with an agency involved in investigating ill-gotten wealth of government officials,” he added.
“I asked the help of accountants and finance specialists to tally and figure out just how much money was actually deposited and/or transferred into the subject bank accounts. Their final tally shows that a total of P2,407,272,103.75 flowed into the subject bank accounts from 2006 to 2015,” the senator added.
But Panelo dismissed Trillanes’ affidavit as “worthless” because all it contained was “double hearsay.”
He said bank officials confirmed he did not have P211 million deposited in the branch.
“I asked the BPI if they have seen P200 million in the accounts of Mayor Duterte. They said that there was none,” the lawyer said.
He added that bank officials asked for seven days to consult with their lawyers before they would release the bank transactions history because of the controversy the issue has generated.
“Since I had an SPA, the bank allowed me to look at the account history since it was opened but I did not see any P200 million since the time the account was opened,” Panelo said.
At a campaign sortie in Manila, Duterte questioned the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Anti-Money Laundering Council about how Trillanes gained access to his private bank accounts.
“I am now questioning the central bank and the AMLC, why big shots in government can look into these accounts while we have no such access,” Duterte said in Filipino.
Trillanes continued to taunt Duterte.
“We can see now that Mayor Duterte is a sham, he’s only tough in words but the truth is that he’s a coward,” he said.
“He didn’t dispute my allegations. If my allegations are wrong, he could have easily filed cases against me. He shied away from the truth,” he added.
During their meeting, Trillanes said he was informed by Panelo that they can ask the bank to produce only the balances of the accounts under the mayor’s name, but without a transaction history to show prior withdrawals.
Trillanes said he immediately left the bank after Panelo said that he was not authorized by Duterte to issue a waiver for the opening his bank accounts to include a transaction history.
Duterte at first dismissed Trillanes exposé as a fake, but later acknowledged that he had a joint account in the BPI branch with his daughter Sara.
He also admitted that the deposits in that bank account amounted to “a little less than P211 million” and they were deposits from “some friends.”
Duterte said there was no need to disclose the entire history of his bank transactions just to prove that he had no undeclared wealth.
He also questioned how Trillanes got the documents, saying banks are prohibited by the Bank Secrecy Law to divulge the financial records of their clients.
He added that BPI also confirmed that the evidence against Duterte did not come from them.
“The fact alone that there is such a law, no banking officer, no banking employee will issue that because they will be subjected to criminal prosecution. This will already tell us that the documents being provided by this Trillanes is coming from a polluted source,” Panelo said.
Monetary officials on Monday denied being the source of the leaked bank records, however.
“We would like to categorically state that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas [BSP] and the Anti-Money Laundering Council [AMLC] are not the source of the documents and information being cited by a vice presidential candidate regarding the alleged bank accounts of a certain presidential candidate,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Vicente Aquino, said in a statement.
“We assure the Filipino people that the BSP and the AMLC are not engaged in partisan politics and will never allow themselves to be used as a tool for political persecution or harassment, or as an instrument to hamper competition in trade and commerce,” Aquino added.
In the stock market, share prices fell for the seventh straight day as investors played play it safe amidst fears of a Duterte presidency.
Share prices in the main Philippine Stock Exchange index were down 173.61 points or 2.43 percent lower to 6,985.68 at noon trading on Monday, while the broader All Shares dropped 82.27 points or 1.94 percent to 4,163.62.
Market analyst Alex Castillo, president and managing director of First Grade Finance Inc. said that the decline could be attributed to investors “playing it safe” ahead of the local polls.
Also on Monday, action star and Duterte supporter Robin Padilla threatened to withdraw his money from BPI to protest Trillanes’ allegations against the mayor.
“It’s all about politics. That is clear,” Padilla said. With Macon Ramos Araneta, Julito G. Rada and Rio N. Araja
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