MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday said Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and lawyer Manases Carpio are ready to defend themselves against malicious allegations against them as shown by their willingness to face the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
The son of President Rodrigo Duterte and Carpio, husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, attended the Senate inquiry into the PHP6.4-billion illegal shipment of shabu from China after the Senate panel invited the two for their alleged involvement in the “Davao Group” which is purportedly behind smuggling cases at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
“Today’s appearance of Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty Manases Carpio before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee demonstrates that both gentlemen are willing and ready to face malicious allegations intended to impugn their character and credibility,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
The Palace official likewise reiterated Duterte’s earlier statement that the President would not interfere in the Senate hearing.
“The President has said on numerous occasions that he would not interfere and he believes that both gentlemen, Vice Mayor Duterte and Atty. Carpio can hold their own at the Senate,” Abella said.
The President earlier told his son to attend the Senate hearing but should invoke his right against self-incrimination should he be interpellated by Senator Antonio Trillanes.
Trillanes is a fierce critic of Duterte and has been hitting his family even before he became President.
“So you might as well invoke the right to silence. When a person invokes a constitutional right, you cannot infer anything from them. Perfectly alright, and you cannot force a person,” Duterte said.
The President said that he would give the same advice to his son-in-law.
But when asked last Monday by reporters if the younger Duterte and Carpio are willing to talk, Abella said that it would still be up to them whether they would choose to answer questions or remain silent.
“Well, that will be their prerogative. But they have definitely said that they’re willing to face,” Abella said.