Did Duterte violate law in accepting 'birthday gift'?

ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Did presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte violate the law when friends supposedly deposited millions of pesos in his bank account for his 69th birthday?

Speaking to radio dzMM, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Sunday claimed that Duterte has admitted that friends made large deposits to his account on March 28, 2014.

Duterte was badgered by reporters on Friday to confirm if seven deposits amounting to P193.71 million entered his Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) account on his birthday in 2014.

The 71-year-old mayor merely gave a cryptic reply, saying: "Ibig sabihin niyan marami akong kaibigan na mayaman."

Pressed if the deposits were given as gifts, he replied: "Alangan naman na hinold-up ko?"

He also said that this fund has already been spent. "Wala na, ginastos ko na. Nag-happy-happy ako," he said.

Trillanes pointed out that Duterte's statement is proof that the mayor violated Republic Act No. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Practices for Public Officials and Employees, which prohibits government officials from accepting gifts of any sort.

"Inamin niya na may mga milyones nga. Pangalawa, hindi ba niya alam na bawal mag-receive ng regalo ang isang public official?" said Trillanes, who is running for vice president.

Trillanes is also skeptical of the Duterte camp's statement that if these deposits were indeed made, the amount may have been donated as calamity funds.

The senator pointed out that the tough-talking mayor himself said that the money was supposedly spent for personal enjoyment.

"Kumakambyo sila na ibinigay raw for calamity funds. Hindi, nagsabi na si Mayor Duterte na naghappy-happy sila. Anong klaseng happy-happy iyung P190 million, almost P200 million? Matinding happy-happy iyun," he said.

The law states that "public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office."

Violations are punishable with a maximum jail term of five years, or a fine not exceeding P5,000, or both.

P2.4-B bank transactions

With less than two weeks before the May 9 presidential election, Trillanes last Wednesday dropped a bombshell by claiming that Duterte's accounts at the BPI-Julia Vargas Avenue branch contained P227.41 million (not P211 million as earlier reported) in 2014.

This was not declared in Duterte's Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) that year.

Trillanes further alleged on Friday that a total of P2.407 billion was funneled into 17 accounts of the Davao City mayor in three banks, from 2006 to 2015.

Over the nine-year period, Duterte allegedly held seven joint accounts with his daughter Sara at the BPI branch in Julia Vargas Avenue, Pasig City; nine joint accounts at the BPI Edsa Greenhills branch; and one joint account at Banco de Oro Unibank-1 in Davao City.

Citing documents given by Trillenes, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Friday that Duterte's accounts at BPI Julia Vargas alone allegedly received P1.74 billion in total deposits and transfers. The joint accounts at BPI Edsa Greenhills also received P667 million while the BDO-Unibank account had P534 million.

Trillanes said deposits and transfers in the three banks totaled 71, of which 48 were credit memos and 23 were inter-bank transfers.

Among these transactions were seven deposits amounting to P193 million, which were credited to Duterte's BPI Julia Vargas account on his 69th birthday.

Duterte has agreed to disclose his bank accounts at the BPI Julia Vargas branch, but his camp on Saturday said Trillanes must first execute an affidavit and name his sources before this can happen.

PDP-Laban spokesperson Paola Alvarez said it is unfair for Duterte to divulge the details of his bank accounts if Trillanes won't reveal the sources of his information which alleges that the Davao City mayor has millions of pesos in hidden wealth.

'Just sign the waiver'

During Sunday's interview, Trillanes again questioned why the mayor's camp suddenly wants him to execute an affidavit.

He noted that the mayor and his running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano released a "general waiver" for all of their bank accounts back in March without setting conditions.

He said that if the leading presidential candidate really has nothing to hide, Duterte should simply divulge not only the current balance of his accounts but the transaction history and year-end balances as well.

Trillanes also called Duterte a coward for allegedly refusing to face the issue directly.

"Maliwanag na sa taumbayan na nagsasabi ako ng totoo. Natakot, naduwag iyung matapang na Mayor Duterte na umaamin kahit ano pero noong hinarapan mo ng katotohanan e nabahag ang buntot," he said.

(READ: 'Puro kambyo': Trillanes hits Duterte's contradicting statements)

No need for full disclosure

Meanwhile, Atty. Sal Panelo, legal counsel of Duterte, maintained Sunday that there is no need to disclose the entire history of the presidential bet's bank transactions to prove that he has no undeclared wealth.

Panelo said Trillanes presented "spurious documents" from a "polluted source" in making his accusations.

The lawyer reasoned that Trillanes could not have gotten the documents from a reliable source because banks are prohibited by the Bank Secrecy Law to divulge the financial records of their clients.

He added that BPI also confirmed that Duterte's evidence did not come from them.

(READ: BPI says no confidentiality breach after Duterte account leak)

"The fact along na mayroong ganyang batas, walang banking officer, walang banking employee na mag-i-issue niyan sapagkat 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," he said in a separate dzMM interview.

Aside from this, Panelo said the law dictates that the burden of proving an allegation falls on the accuser, and not the accused.

"In the first place, dapat hindi nagpo-prove si Mayor Duterte. It's basic under the law that one who alleges must prove. Ikaw ang nag-akusa, ikaw ang mag-presenta ng ebidensya mo," he said.

"Pero kahit ganoon, sabi ni Mayor Duterte, 'O sige, bubuksan ko.' Pero wala siyang karapatan na kalkalin kung ano pa."

Panelo also pointed out that Duterte on Saturday released a BPI bank statement showing that he did not have millions in the bank.

The summary of deposits showed that the mayor had a balance of P17,668 from from December 31, 2015 to March 31. The mayor said this balance increased to P27,024.09 by April 29.

Despite this, Panelo said he will still go to the BPI on Monday to show that Duterte's account there does not contain P200 million, and did not receive this amount in any single transaction or collective deposits.

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