MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday told the military to remove him from office if he is lying about his wealth, as the commander-in-chief continues to deal with allegations that he has hundreds of millions of pesos in undeclared money in bank accounts.
Duterte issued the statement during the change of command ceremony of the Philippine Army, wherein outgoing Army chief Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda relinquished his post to Maj. Gen. Rolando Bautista.
“Please oust me if I tell a lie to you,” Duterte told troops at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.
Duterte also told the military to ignore the political noise triggered by the allegations of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who accuses the President of having billions of undeclared wealth.
Trillanes recently revived his claim in a privilege speech that Duterte and his family have at least P2 billion worth of questionable transactions in their bank accounts.
“Never mind my politics. Pang-ano lang ‘yan, pampatawa lang ‘yan,” he said.
Duterte also asked the military to maintain its loyalty to the Constitution and to the flag.
“[It] behooves upon you, I said, to see to it that this country will grow, prosper until the end of time,” he told soldiers.
The President also reiterated that his “lifetime savings” do not exceed P40 million.
The chief executive has accused the opposition Liberal Party and the Communist Party of the Philippines of banding together to destabilize his government oust. Both the LP and CPP have denied the allegation.
Duterte, who won on a platform of fighting criminality and corruption, has been saying that he is willing to step down if the people and the military are no longer satisfied with him.
“You have all the intelligence and apparatus. If you think that I’m corrupt and I am not worth the position, oust me, please,” Duterte said in a separate speech in Pasay City.
“Tanggalin ninyo ako, through a coup d’etat or whatever you want. Then find a leader that maybe the Filipino nation would be happy listening to.”
PROBE VS DUTERTE
Duterte has criticized Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for supposedly approving an investigation into his wealth and that of his family based on a complaint filed by Trillanes.
He believes that Morales is being used by the political opposition to unseat him. The LP, however, believes the President was only floating the idea of a destabilization plot to deflect the issues on his wealth.
The President has asked Morales, an appointee of his predecessor Benigno Aquino III, to resign, citing alleged widespread corruption in the anti-graft office and supposed bias against the incumbent administration. He said he might also push for the impeachment of the chief graft buster.
Morales’ office recently claimed that it has started looking into the wealth of the President and his family, and that it had requested more information from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang said the Duterte family’s transactions amounted to hundreds of millions of pesos from different banks between 2006 until 2016.
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 statement 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 and claimed he has nothing to hide.
Morales has inhibited from the case since her nephew, Manases Carpio, is the husband of the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
The Office of the Ombudsman’s revelation 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 being conducted by the anti-graft body, saying the supposed bank documents in its hands were illegally obtained.