MANILA - Malacañang on Wednesday branded as “empty” Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s latest claims on the wealth of President Rodrigo Duterte and the supposed source of information on his alleged bank accounts abroad.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the senator, who tagged one Daniel "Snooky" Cruz in purportedly peddling fake information to the President, “had nothing new to offer by way of information or insight.”
“Mr. Trillanes did not present any proof, except photos of Mr. Cruz with the President and other government officials, which are obviously taken from social media,” Abella said in a statement.
“In the end, Sen. Trillanes’ ‘exposé’ was as empty as the hall he spoke in.”
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, for his part, said Trillanes’ claim about Cruz “is not only absurd but without logic as well.”
“Sen. Trillanes is well aware that the President, as the Chief Executive and the Commander-in-Chief, has ready access to the vast array of information of the intelligence network of the Philippine government,” Panelo said in a statement.
“Thus, paying any supposed financial forensic expert for any such information is clearly against logic and common sense.”
Panelo also challenged Trillanes to make his allegations outside the halls of the Senate where he has no parliamentary immunity.
“Evidently, he wants to protect himself by shrewdly using his parliamentary immunity to shield him from criminal prosecution in the event that his information turns out to be spurious,” Panelo said.
Trillanes, in a privilege speech on Tuesday, had claimed that Malacañang paid Cruz P10 million for information on the lawmaker's alleged bank accounts, including one at the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS).
The senator recently flew to Singapore to prove that the account was non-existent.
Cruz, he said, gives security seminars for a living, but had pretended to be a financial forensic expert and former United States agent.
The senator said Cruz also sold to authorities fake details on the bank accounts of Sen. Leila de Lima, which were just identical to his supposed accounts.
P2B IN BANK ACCOUNTS
The senator also revived his claim that Duterte has more than P2 billion in his bank accounts.
As to this accusation, Abella said the Palace stands by the official statement of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) that it was not the source of documents Trillanes attached in his complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Further, the AMLC mentioned that the total amounts of the alleged bank accounts are wrong and misleading,” Abella added.
The President has slammed the ongoing Ombudsman probe into his and his family's wealth based on Trillanes' complaint.
The Ombudsman recently started looking into the wealth of the President and his family.
Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang said the Duterte family’s transactions in different banks between 2006 and 2016 amount to hundreds of millions of pesos. He, however, clarified that it was hard to say how much the deposits were in total, since money went in and out of the accounts.
The AMLC, however, said it has not released any report to the Ombudsman as it has yet to evaluate its request for an investigation of the President's and his family's bank accounts.
Carandang’s claim prompted Trillanes and other critics to again challenge the President to sign a bank secrecy waiver to finally settle the matter. The President has repeatedly dismissed this call, even as he said he has nothing to hide.
The Office of the Ombudsman’s revelation, meanwhile, prompted the President to threaten to investigate the anti-graft body for possible corruption. Duterte, an impeachable official, also said he would not submit himself to the investigation.