MANILA - A coalition on Wednesday challenged President Duterte to sign a bank secrecy waiver to dispel corruption allegations after he "lied" about the account number of his critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
"It is time to face the music. It is time to sign the waiver as Sen. Trillanes did. As long as you refuse to sign the waiver, the people will believe you have something to hide," #TindigPilipinas! said in a statement.
The group also repeated a statement by Duterte's running mate in the 2016 elections, saying candidates who have nothing to hide should sign a bank waiver.
Duterte and Trillanes have many times exchanged allegations that the other has hidden wealth deposited in their bank accounts.
Since the days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trillanes had alleged that Duterte has billions of pesos in the bank. He reiterated his accusation after the president called him “political ISIS.”
Duterte has claimed that Trillanes shares his alleged offshore bank accounts with a Chinese national.
The senator then signed a waiver for 12 bank accounts being linked to him, and dared Duterte to do the same.
He also flew to Singapore to prove that the accounts being linked to him were non-existent.
On Tuesday, the President said he gave an incorrect DBS Bank account number on purpose to deceive Trillanes.
“Binawasan ko ng number, imbento lang,” Duterte said. “Diyos ko Trillanes, when you lie, you put another lie to cover this lie… patong patong na iyan.”
In response, Trillanes said: "Buti naman umamin siya na sinungaling siya. To begin with, nanalo siya base sa propaganda at kasinungalingan."
#TindigPilipinas!, where Trillanes is a member, denounced Duterte's move, saying the President has no proof of corruption.
"President Duterte lied about the bank accounts of Sen. Trillanes. There are no hidden bank accounts. There is no ill-gotten wealth. There is no proof of corruption."
The group, which is a union of coalitions and citizens alarmed and outraged by alleged extrajudicial killings under Duterte's drug war, described the President's acts as irresponsible, deplorable, and undignified.
"What is evident are the irresponsible lies the president brazenly foisted by recycling fake news. What is deplorable is the President's willful defamation of Senator Trillanes, shamelessly repeating the allegations of the likes of Mocha Uson and Erwin Tulfo. What is undignified is a President who casually dismisses allegations of corruption by making practical jokes," it said.
"Ginoong Duterte, hindi ito patintero o away ng mga bata sa kalye. You cannot hide behind child's play or immature behavior. This is not a game, Mr. President."
HUNGER GAMES SALUTE
Members of #TindigPilipinas! have adopted the three-finger salute from the hit "Hunger Games" films as a sign of resistance against Duterte's rule and drug war killings.
The sign is in contrast to Duterte's own iconic gesture, a clenched fist raised at or above eye level that is immensely popular with his support but which opponents have likened to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's hand salute.
"Yes, we adopted the three-finger salute to signify resistance, same as that of the Hunger Games trilogy," House of Representatives member Gary Alejano told AFP.
"It resonates with many young people," said Emman Hizon, chief of staff of opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, another of those who made the three-finger salute.
Used by the lead character Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series, the salute is portrayed as a symbol of resistance in a dystopian future where youths are forced to engage in annual fight-to-the-death combat.
The gesture has since been adopted by pro-democracy protesters in military junta-ruled Thailand. Thai protesters have been arrested for flashing the salute.
A pro-Duterte blogger known as "Thinking Pinoy" ridiculed the opposition's Hunger Games salute, writing in a Facebook post they were like "girl scouts".
Hand signs are powerful political symbols in the Philippines, a riotous democracy with a bloodstained history of military dictatorship.
A generation ago, activists used the "L" hand sign to show opposition to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, toppled in a bloodless "People Power" revolution in 1986.
Supporters of Marcos, who was accused of massive corruption and of killing, jailing and torturing dissidents during a 20-year rule, had countered with his "V for victory" sign.
Critics allege Duterte is imposing a form authoritarian rule that could lead to another dictatorship.
They point to his support of the Marcos family, as well as efforts by his allies in Congress to impeach the Supreme Court chief justice and defund the Commission on Human Rights. With Agence France Presse