President Rodrigo Duterte advised his son Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte to face the Senate probe on the P6.4 billion smuggled shabu from China, but should invoke his right to remain silent once he is questioned by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
“Ang advice ko kay Pulong (Paolo)? Punta ka doon [My advice to Pulong? Go to the hearing] And then pagdating mo, dun sa questions, sabihin mo [And when you arrived, to the questions, tell them, I will not answer you. I’m invoking my right of silence kasi noong eleksyon pa, hindi pa Presidente tatay ko, binibira mo na kami [because since the elections, even when my father is not yet the president]. So if you want evidence, do not get it from the mouth of other people. Go somewhere else,” Duterte said.
The president’s statements came after Trillanes earlier invited Paolo and presidential son-in-law Manases Carpio to the senate inquiry. The two are dragged as part of the so-called Davao Group and smuggling mess in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Duterte added that the Senate investigation has been “degraded”, become “cheap” and become a tool for harassment.
“For what purpose? For harassment…The problem is the processes of the Senate have been degraded. It seems that it looks cheap now…So once they send a subpoena, I will tell them, ‘S***. What’s the purpose? To investigate?’ If they summon you, all you have to do is to say, ‘No. We will not answer you. I will not answer you. I will (invoke) the right to remain silent.’ Period,” Duterte said.
“My advice to all? If you are called to the Senate… sign it. If you are cited for contempt, then you go to court. And you will say, ‘I have the right to remain silent. I will go there, but that’s it,’” Duterte added.
The president also said invoking right to remain silent is “perfectly all right” even in the face of a contempt charge from the investigating body.
“When a person invokes a Constitutional right, you cannot infer anything wrong there… And you cannot force a person to testify. All you have to do is to send a letter. We are not answering your questions. I will not submit to an investigation. For what? You are on a fishing expedition,” Duterte said.
As the president, Duterte vowed to help those who would be cited for contempt.
“Do not be afraid of being cited for contempt in the Senate. That’s nothing. If you are summoned, as help from me as President, I will help you. I will send lawyers. I have to say that I represent the person cited to appear, and my answer to him is, ‘Shut up.’ That’s it,” Duterte said.
“So henceforth, the Senate will get nothing. I said that because they have cheapened the image of the Senate as an oppressor – not all but that’s the way it is. Do not be afraid of being questioned,” Duterte added.
Duterte said his son could not incriminate himself and even before the 2016 elections, Trillanes has always been taking a swipe against them.
It can also be recalled that Trillanes claimed Duterte has billions in his bank accounts that are undeclared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN).