MANILA—Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday defended Pres. Rodrigo Duterte from revived allegations of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that the President had over PHP 2 billion worth of undeclared bank accounts.
“It’s a settled issue. The status is the President gave his waiver to the banks. From there, the banks said there’s no such amount so what are these new allegations?” Cayetano told reporters in an interview.
Trillanes first made the allegations when Pres. Duterte was presidential candidate in April 2016, noting that it has been almost nine months since Pres. Duterte released his bank accounts and has yet to prove his claims wrong.
If Pres. Duterte proves his allegations wrong, Trillanes said that he would immediately resign as Senator.
Cayetano, however, said that the allegations have already been addressed by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo in the past.
The senator further said that if Trillanes had enough evidence to back his allegations, he should go directly to the Ombudsman or the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to recommend Pres. Duterte’s impeachment.
“The challenge goes back to Sen. Trillanes. Prove it, don’t just throw out statements and documents that were produced in your office. You could make a speech, you could file a case in the Ombudsman but trial by publicity is the forte of Sen. Trillanes,” Cayetano said.
He further said Trillanes’ alleged documents were backed by solid proof, he should have acted upon it before Duterte took his oath as President in June 30 since he did not yet have immunity from suit.
Cayetano, meanwhile, hit back at Trillanes and urged him to also reveal who helped him fund the TV advertisements which were bent at “destroying” then presidential candidate Duterte.
“He already did this during the campaign. Until now, he cannot explain how he got over PHP20 million which he paid to ABS-CBN and GMA for commercials meant to destroy Pres. Duterte,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano further said that it was a “desperate” attempt by Trillanes to “stop the reforms” of Pres. Duterte since he had ‘padrinos’ (political patronage) that are affected by these reforms.
He claimed that Trillanes had initially wanted to “be close” to the President because he wanted to be given a “special assignment” as he had in the previous administration.
“We never said from the start that there won’t be corruption, we said we will fight corruption. We never said that there won’t be corrupt cabinet members, we said we will deal with them harshly,” Cayetano said.