NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 13 Sept) — During his speech at the Mindanao Business Conference in Cagayan de Oro last Saturday, President Rodrigo Duterte dropped the bomb on Senator Antonio Trillanes alleging that the latter has several offshore banks accounts in Hong Kong, Australia and America, some of which are joined accounts with a Chinese national. The offshore hidden wealth was evidenced by circulated documents of a $50 remittance each under the Senator’s name to UBS bank in Zurich, Deutch bank in Geneva and a bank in Nova Scotia, Toronto, Canada
But come to think of it, would a few $50 remittances make a hidden wealth? Why such pittance a deposit? The amount could not even justify bank service fee. There is more to the expose’ than meets the eye.
At any rate, Trillanes wasted no time in denying the allegation and in an interview with DZRB, challenged the President and members of his family that all of them sign waivers and allow the Anti Money Laundering Council and the Ombudsman to examine their accounts to settle the issue of corruption and hidden wealth once and for all. By Monday he signed the waiver for the purpose.
The playing field has already been leveled. Now, that both camps have already traded accusations on corruption and ill-gotten wealth , the duel has begun. The gunslingers are now staring at each other. He who blinks first is a goner.
In just six months, from December 2016 to May 2017, some 1.5 tons of Shabu (methamphetamine) from China had successfully entered the country through the Bureau of Customs (BOC). This a big blot to the administration centerpiece program against corruption and illegal drugs. The shipment would not have been possible without the handiwork of the officers and personnel of the BOC.
The noxious and stomach churning corruption in the Bureau is known to everybody far and wide. Nothing moves in the BOC without grease money. Bribery not only robs the government from unpaid taxes, it also allows entry into the country of dangerous goods, like various forms of illegal drugs and fake pharmaceutical drugs, and products that unfairly compete with those locally produced, like rice, sugar and garlic.
It bewildered all and sundry that instead of lambasting Customs and firing its chief, President Duterte instead heaped praises on him, singing confidence on his honesty and integrity. The corruption issue in Customs took a nasty intriguing twist when presidential son, Paolo (aka Pulong in the BOC corridor of influence) was linked to the gargantuan shabu smuggling. Expectedly, Tay Digong protected his son but said nothing about the ignominy in the BOC. Customs chief Faeldon eventually resigned but stopped attending the Senate hearing on dangerous drugs fueling speculations that he is avoiding the possibility of spilling the beans on the powerful and mighty on the drug smuggling hullabaloo. He apparently opted to be detained by the Senate for his contemptuous behavior rather than open his mouth and vomits ugly truth in the process.
How long can the Senate or Congress detain a person in contempt? The Supreme Court said as long as the life of that particular Congress is in session. If the second session of the 17th Congress ends in December 2017, then Faeldon remains in detention that long. The Gordon Committee is entertaining the idea of detaining the former BOC commissioner in Pasay City jail.
A long detention and in a regular jail at that is, however, unlikely to happen. Loyalty is a fair lady that needs to be rescued. Will the Senate blink?
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)