First off, I’m not a paid blogger or anyone’s propagandist. So if any Duterte diehard fans bashes me with personal insults, not on issues, I reserve the right to bash back harder than you bash me.
Second, this blog presents my personal views and opinions, and analyses of what’s going in the Philippines today. A personal blog is different from news organizations, like the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rappler and others, that present balanced views. As a blogger, I’m like a newspaper columnist, presenting his personal insights and opinions based on his personal perspective.
Third, I know very well Duterte’s platform of government and researched his track record in Davao so his fans shouldn’t say I don’t know the man enough and that I’m just a paid basher. I was initially impressed by Duterte but soon changed my mind after realizing the dark side of what he’s offering.
Why am I writing about what I see as the dark side of a Duterte presidency? Because I believe there are far better choices, either Mar Roxas or Grace Poe.
BIG-TIME CORRUPTION AFFECTS EVERY FILIPINO
Unlike what many Filipinos in the Philippines and the 11-million strong overseas Pinoys think and assume incorrectly, graft and corruption, specially big-time, negatively affect everyone.
Cases in point.
If an OFW’s child needs emergency operation in a public hospital in Samar, but the operation can’t be done due to lack of medical equipment and medicines as budget was lost to corruption, what will the concerned OFW think and feel?
If the mother of an office clerk in Pasay or a jeepney driver in Caloocan is at the Philippine General Hospital and needs immediate operation, but the operation can’t be done because there are no anesthetics and other medical supplies due to corruption, will the patient simply die while awaiting the life-saving operation?
If your father or husband depends on planting rice and vegetables for an income, but he is always plagued by lack of seeds, irrigation water and other government support due to corruption, how would you feel and think?
If you take the MRT or LRT to work or school almost daily, you will seethe with anger if the train suddenly stops in the middle of the tracks. Metro Manila’s train system is already unsafe – and it’s due mainly to big-time corruption at the Department of Transportation and Communications, and President Aquino hasn’t seen fit yet to sack DOTC Emilio Abaya, who happens to be Liberal Party president.
As I have illustrated above, big-time corruption adversely touches the life of every individual in our country – poor, the not-so-poor and to a lesser extent, the rich.
But big-time corruption affects more seriously the common man, more than the rich. Why so? Simple.
Ordinary wage earners, probably including many OFWs, often don’t have extra money and won’t be able to raise big sums in times of emergencies to pay for usually expensive hospital operation of a loved one. But the rich have ways of raising emergency money. So, most Filipinos across the country are adversely affected by large-scale corruption.
DUTERTE FAMILY’S 41 PROPERTIES, INCLUDING 3 IN METRO MANILA
Senator Antonio Trillanes struck another blow Friday evening (April 29) against Rodrigo Duterte, exclusively providing GMA7 a list of 41 properties in Davao, Zamboanga and Metro Manila, most of them under the name of his children. For details of the GMA7 story, please double click the youtube link below, as well as the Philippine Star link.
Please note in the GMA7 report that its reporters checked the Trillanes list with the Land Registration Authority and found out that the Transfer Certificate Titles were all, except for one, under the names of Duterte’s children. Of the 41 properties, 34 are located in Davao city, 1 in San Juan city – presumably the one which appeared in Trillanes’ bank transactions tabulation which was initially denounced by Duterte as “fabricated” – 1 in Paranaque, 1 in Quezon city and one in Cagayan de Oro city.
The list of properties provided by Trillanes to GMA7 was on the whole accurate.
Duterte’s political party, PDP Laban has defended the Davao city mayor. “Just because the Duterte family lives a simple life in Davao city doesn’t mean that they won’t have the means to buy and accumulate properties. Aside from what they’ve bought, what if others are inheritance,” said PDP Laban spokeswoman Paola Alvarez.
She has a good and valid point. But Trillanes’ retort: “It’s normal for people to have one or two houses. But if you have 10 properties and funds used to acquire them came from taxpayers’ money, there’s something wrong somewhere.” He added it would be worse if monies from illegal activities were used to acquire those properties.
While not a single one was under the name of the Davao city mayor, the most likely questions that will arise are the following: Does Sara Duterte and husband have extremely good source or sources of income to be able to buy 15 properties? If not, where did the monies come from? Remember that Sara served one three-year term as mayor of Davao city. The same question will apply to the other Duterte children. If there are questions on the strength of the children’s source or sources of income, did the father have anything to do with putting up so many properties in the family?
I won’t be mistaken if the questions above are on the mind of Trillanes and what moves he will do next to verify the income sources of the Duterte children which will be fairly easy to do. Even inheritance of properties can be checked out easily. More disclosures from Trillanes in this front can well be expected in the coming days.
The fact that the Duterte’s family has 41 properties in various places will tend to disprove the feisty mayor’s claim that he is poor even if he’s in the government service for over 20 years. By any stretch of imagination, a family which owns 41 properties in the Philippines can in no way be described as poor or middle class. Depending on location, each of the three properties in Quezon city, San Juan city and Paranaque is likely worth several million pesos.
ONLY P17,000-P50,000 OR WHOPPING P2.4 BILLION IN DUTERTE’S BANK ACCOUNTS?
The past week must have been extremely agonizing for Duterte after Trillanes disclosed that the Davao city mayor had P211 million in an undeclared bank account with BPI Julia Vargas branch in Ortigas. In response, Duterte immediately rejected the accusation, saying he didn’t have an account with BPI Julia Vargas branch. But a day later, he admitted there was such account but it only had P17,000 to P50,000 from what he remembered. He subsequently reversed himself and admitted he has two accounts at BPI with about P200 million.
Trillanes followed up his initial disclosure with a subsequent assertion that about P2.4 billion passed through three separate bank accounts of Duterte at BPI Julia Vargas branch, a BDO branch and another one. He backed up his fresh assertion with a tabulation of inter-account transfers and deposits, involving his bank account with BPI Julia Vargas and a separate BPI account at its Greenhills branch. Again, Duterte denied having amassed a huge amount.
The April 29 news of GMA7 on Youtube showed him being asked by the media various questions, including how much he really has in his bank accounts and whether he also has another account at BPI Greenhills. He deliberately avoided answering directly the media’s questions.
In an interview with DZMM on Friday night, Trillanes said he challenged Duterte to meet him face to face tomorrow (Monday) morning at BPI Julia Vargas branch to clear up questions about his mystery bank account and the P2.4 billion. But he said Duterte chickened out of his proposed face-off and will instead send one of his lawyers.
“I thought he’s brave. Everyone believes he’s strong and brave. So, why can’t he face me? I’m only one man,” Trillanes said.
He stressed that what he wants Duterte to do is to reveal to the public the transactions that went through his three bank accounts over the past few years – not simply to show their balance.
“Documents in my possession show that a total of P2.4 billion passed through his accounts between 2005 to 2015 so I want him to show those transactions to the public, not just show how much is left. When an employee receives his or her salary in a bank account, that money is gone quickly using an ATM card so I want him (Duterte) to show the history of transactions,” he said.
Asked why he doesn’t want to sign an affidavit sought by Duterte stating from whom he got his documents, the purpose of his request and other items, Trillanes responded: “Why will I betray my sources of information. They won’t trust me anymore if I betray them. I’m doing this to serve public interest, not myself. This is exactly what I’ve done in the case of Jojo Binay in the Senate public hearings.”
He added that had received the documents much earlier from whistle blowers, he would have disclosed them much earlier. “I will be remiss in my duties as a public servant if I just sit and not do anything on documents which point to large scale corruption,” he added.
He said he can’t understand why Duterte will not give top priority to clearing his name by showing up tomorrow morning at BPI to clear up the issue. He reiterated his vow to resign from the Senate if his accusation against Duterte is found groundless.
The much anticipated faceoff between Trillanes and Duterte’s lawyer tomorrow will never happen. ABS CBN reported today (Sunday) about Duterte’s decision not to open his BPI accounts unless Trillanes first signs an affidavit disclosing where he got the documents in his possession, together with other information from the senator.
This is clearly a legal maneuver that Duterte has adopted to prevent him from disclosing to the public the history of transactions in his bank accounts. This is what Trillanes is seeking to prove his assertion – based on detailed documents in his possession – that P2.4 billion passed through Duterte’s accounts.
While Duterte has successfully defended his right to privacy to his accounts, doubts had been sowed in the mind of everyone whether Trillanes’ accusation on the P2.4 billion is true or not, specially because the Trillanes tabulation of bank transactions had been proven partially correct in the sense that they’re existing – not fake or imaginary – accounts.
WHOSE INTEREST IS BEING PROTECTED BY BANK SECRECY LAW?
Did Trillanes violate the country’s bank secrecy law? The jury is still out on this. It remains unclear.
The Philippines has one of the world’s tightest bank secrecy laws and it hampers the fight against crimes. A case in point is the problem of how to pry open pertinent RCBC accounts relating to the US$81 million money laundering scam that shamed the Philippines in the entire world. Even bank accounts of suspected criminals are ironically protected in our country.
But if it’s in the general public’s interest and if suspected crime is involved, the Anti Money Laundering Council is empowered to ask banks to furnish the inter-agency body with detailed bank records of individuals suspected of engaging in money laundering.
In the case of Duterte’s BPI bank accounts, which interests are far more important and should take precedence – his personal interest or that of the Filipino public from whom the alleged P2.4 billion may have come from?
In the case of Binay, whistleblowers who provided Trillanes with incriminating documents, together with former associates of Binay, were largely responsible for giving a very clear and comprehensive picture of the wide extent of thievery of Makati taxpayers’ monies. Had it not been for leaked documents and photos, including the 300-hectare Binay farm in Batangas – initially denounced as fake or fabrications – the whole Filipino nation won’t know the blatant theft and misuse of taxpayers’ money by the Binays.
Across the world, whistleblowers are helping reveal a significant number of dark secrets which governments and senior officials want to be kept secret from public scrutiny. In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the United States government is spying on its allies, including Germany, France and many other allies. The revelation, of course, angered US allies and Snowden was invariably hailed as a hero, patriot, traitor, whistleblower and a dissident.
GETTING CORNERED AND VIOLATION OF SALN LAW?
It was clear that Trillanes cornered and forced Duterte into admitting that he has accounts with BPI and that they contained more than his initial estimate of P17,000 to P50,000.
He declared in his 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) that he only had a net worth of P21.97 million.
If the history of transactions in his bank accounts are eventually disclosed and if it can be shown – in official bank documents – that he had much more than P21.97 million when he prepared and submitted his 2014 SALN which he signed and swore to be truthful, that will likely comprise perjury. It will comprise a violation of Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Serious violation of this law on SALN led to the sacking of former Chief Justice Renato Corona who died this past week.
He was found to have lied in declaring the true value of all his net assets in his SALN. As a result of that, he was subsequently impeached in the Senate even if he headed a branch of government independent from the legislative and executive branches.
Like Corona, Duterte can be subjected to impeachment proceedings at the Senate if he wins the presidency and if it can be proven that he violated the law on SALN.
ON SOLID GROUNDS
On more solid ground, the Commission on Audit has questioned Duterte why his administration spent over P700 million in 2014 to pay for the salaries of 11,000 casual employees, but whose names and signatures for salaries collected couldn’t be produced to show that all of them were legitimate workers, not ghosts or employees only on the 15th and 30th of each month.
On the question why he hired so many casual employees, Duterte defended himself saying, Davao’s land area is large and he was forced to hire casuals to augment regulars.
But key questions went unanswered: Why were there no work time cards? Why wasn’t there a complete list of all 11,000 casual employees – a huge number? Why where there no signatures?
Surely, a long-serving mayor should know these standard operating procedures in government.
QUESTIONABLE ASSOCIATION AND MONEY MATTERS IN DAVAO
Until sometime in February or March this year, Lito Banayo, former head of the National Food Authority (NFA), was known as a political strategis of Duterte.
But for inexplicable reasons, Duterte did not seem to mind hiring a key adviser like Banayo who had been sacked by President Aquino as NFA chief after being charged with rice smuggling by the National Bureau of Investigation.
In a report carried on April 24 this year by www.interaksyon.com, run by TV5 of business tycoon Manuel Pangilinan, a non-governmental organization, the Coalition of Filipino Consumers (CFC), has alleged that smuggling of rice, electronic products, luxury vehicles, canned goods and imported used clothes (or ukay ukay) was rampant in Davao city. CFC head Perfecto Jaime Tagalog has accused Duterte’s son, Paolo, of being “the king of smuggling lords in Davao.”
But the camp of the Duterte son has denied the allegation.
Tagalog also charged that people close to Mayor Duterte are linked to smuggling, adding that farmers in Davao and surrounding areas, including Kidapawan, are struggling because of rampant smuggling of agricultural products in Davao and other parts of Mindanao.
He also said rice smuggling suspect Davidson Bangayan, alias David Tan, is close to the Duterte family and that Bangayan is always seen in Davao and Mindanao. Bangayan has also been charged by the NBI with rice smuggling.
“WHERE THERE’S SMOKE, THERE’S FIRE”
Duterte at first denied as “fabrication” having an account with BPI Julia Vargas branch, but soon after admitted having one. He also claimed having only P17,000 to P50,000 in that account, but later admitted having around P200 million in response to Trillanes’ revelation that he had at least P211 million.
Duterte again denied having as much as P2.4 billion after Trillanes disclosed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer detailed tabulations of deposits and other transactions, with account numbers in BPI Julia Vargas and BPI Greenhills branch. But he did not give straight answers when asked by the media how much he really has in his bank accounts. The GMA7 news on Youtube in the link above shows his encounter with the media about this subject.
Duterte has refused clearly to provide a history of transactions in his two BPI accounts plus a BDO account that Trillanes claims the mayor also has. Duterte has cleverly used a legal tactic to clamp down and prevent the public from knowing the history of transactions in his three bank accounts.
He knows that Trillanes will not execute an affidavit that will reveal and betray the senator’s sources of information. Duterte will certainly take legal action against the whistleblowers who provided Trillanes with the incriminating documents that shamed Duterte over the past week, issuing several denials of Trillanes’ accusations, but later admitting – after being caught lying — that those accusations were true after all.
For now, Duterte has successfully used a legal tactic to prevent Trillanes and the whole Filipino nation from knowing if P2.4 billion really went through his three bank accounts in Metro Manila.
But everybody has already seen the lies that Duterte has tried to spin over the allegations of Trillanes and that the senator has slowly uncovered the truth about Duterte’s hidden wealth. Whether Duterte’s hidden wealth is ill gotten or not is an area that Trillanes is likely to pursue – whether or not Duterte wins the presidency or not.
In this saga, Trillanes has successfully shown the veracity of this popular saying – “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
Trillanes has again scored after GMA7 reporters established the accuracy of the list of 41 properties put under the names of Duterte’s children.
The initial results of the offensive of Trillanes against Duterte, together with COA findings on the questionable spending of P700 million by Duterte on 11,000 casual workers, has amply indicated the involvement of Duterte and his family members to seemingly questionable transactions involving huge amounts which may run into billions of pesos – if Trillanes is proven correct in all his assertions. Whether Duterte can satisfactorily answer the allegations of Trillanes that huge amounts in his bank accounts were legitimately and legally earned or whether they are products of illegal activities is an area that the Filipino nation will keenly await in the coming days and weeks.
In the meantime, the biggest questions at hand are these – Is Duterte fit to become the next president of the Philippines in the light of the initial results of Trillanes’ allegations, the COA findings on the 11,000 casual workers and allegations of an NGO of rampant smuggling in Davao?
Or are Filipinos better off voting into office as next president Mar Roxas or Grace Poe who are both untainted with questionable transactions and association with people with questionable integrity and character?
NOTE: For more information about views of Filipinos in Hong Kong on the latest and hottest developments about Filipinos in this city, in the Philippines and in different countries, please tune in every Sunday at 4-6 pm to — Pinoy Life on RTHK (this is also our Facebook page) even using your cellphones. Our interviews today are with senatorial candidate Lisa Hontiveros and UP professor and political analyst Ramon Casiple.