OPINION: Time for Duterte to play the hero

Scarredcat - Inday Espina-Varona

Posted at Apr 27 2016 11:32 PM | Updated as of Apr 28 2016 01:27 AM

Forget jet-skiing on the West Philippine Sea and offering life for the nation.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ accusations provide a perfect opportunity for Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to exercise the credo of bayan-bago-sarili, nation-before-self.

We have no idea for now if Trillanes’ charges are true. He claims that, at the least, Duterte has P200 million cash – undeclared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN). Almost all of that came in one fell swoop – during his 69th birthday – if Trillanes is right.

READ: Trillanes: Duterte a 'fraud,' didn't declare P211M in SALN

It is a serious charge. A Chief Justice has been impeached for that crime. Vice President Jejomar Binay is in big trouble for the very same charge.

READ: Source of Binay personal funds a puzzle

Duterte claims corruption is the root of crime in the Philippines. He campaigns for change. He presents himself as Mr. Clean, incorruptible, out to get the scum in and out of government.

Duterte has denied the charge.

But the man who last March dared all rivals to sign waivers on bank secrecy, now won’t. It is for Trillanes to prove the charges, he says.

READ: Duterte calls Trillanes 'a dangerous man'

Legally, he stands on solid ground. But Duterte’s strength has always been beyond legalities – why else would he keep on insisting on those kills?

Bravado can be used on issues like rape jokes. One cannot fallback on that when the charge is corruption.

Duterte should file charges against Trillanes. The senator clearly broke the law by peddling documents obtained illegally. Trillanes doesn’t even have the excuse of a Senate hearing.

But Duterte should quickly follow that up by signing a waiver on all accounts under his name.

If he says those accounts don’t exist, then a waiver should pose no problem. He can even march to the banks named and demand to see those accounts. IF they do not exist.

The current posture of "who believes Trillanes?" won’t work. Every person who’s ever hurled corruption charges against public officials does it to push a personal, economic or political interest. We know that. Doesn’t matter.

The way Trillanes dishes out his data, we can expect tomorrow or the day after the identities of the origins of the money that came into just one account on one day, via interbank transfers.

Duterte publicly signed a “waiver” on March 11. That was just for publicity. That was a pledge. It wasn’t notarized.

A waiver is what Sen. Chiz Escudero has been signing since 2013: a notarized legal document submitted to the Ombudsman with one's SALN. It is for every account under one’s name, not just for accounts listed on the SALN, precisely to make it easy to check for hidden wealth.

Duterde has reneged on his pledge so early– because Trillanes has pricked his macho pride?

Leadership is tested under the harshest conditions. Duterte can stall and do a Binay. He can curse and cuss and stomp hope followers march in step till victory. He’ll still probably win.

But wasn’t he supposed to be the action man, the dude who rushed in where angels fear to tread?

I hope he signs the waiver – for the good of the country. Already, administration supporters are jumping with glee, seeing a swift retaking of Malacanang post-election.

Dean Antonio La Viña foresees an impeachment complaint, with an easy sprint to get 1/5 of representatives to sign. Duterte doesn’t have a strong backing in the Senate either.

La Viña says: "This will be a lot of fun for political afficionados like me but so bad for the country. For sure, the Duterte voters will not take this standing down. Mindanawons will especially resent it, look at this as a conspiracy to stop one of our own to become president. They would feel as the poor felt when the Manila elite ousted Erap.”

That's a terrible scenario but one that's been building up. It spells tragedy for this country.

I’ve always believed in respecting the people’s vote – right or wrong. Duterte’s more organized supporters won’t stand back when their President is attacked. They will fight it out: street by street, rural vale by rural vale, making us a more bloody version of Thailand.

Go ahead and teach Trillanes a lesson, Mr. Mayor. But sign that waiver.

(Disclaimer: The views of the author are her own and not necessarily the view of ABS-CBN Corp.)

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.