DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 September) — Senator Antonio Trillanes on Thursday said Presidential son Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, incumbent Vice Mayor of Davao City, is a member of a triad involved in illegal drugs, and that proof of his membership is a “dragon-like” tattoo on his back with “secret digits.”
The vice mayor responded yes to Trillanes’ question if he had a tattoo on his back but declined to show it, invoking his right to privacy.
Trillanes also alleged that Duterte had bank accounts totaling at least 104 million pesos and Presidential son-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio, had at least 121 million pesos, both as of yearend 2015.
The senator dared them to sign bank secrecy waiver forms which he brought along. Both declined to sign as both also disputed Trillanes’ claims.
Duterte’s lawyer, Rainier Madrid, dismissed Trillanes’ allegations as “hearsay,” “lies,” and “propaganda.”
He dared Trillanes to file charges if, indeed the senator has proof that the President’s son is involved in corruption and illegal drugs.
Madrid said Trillanes’ main target was to discredit President Rodrigo Duterte through his son. Madrid said Trillanes is still smarting from having been rejected by Duterte to be his running mate in the 2016 Presidential polls.
Trillanes asked the Vice Mayor if he was willing to have his tattoo photographed and sent to the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency to decode the “secret digits.”
“No way,” the President’s son replied, “no way, Mr. Chair.”
Trillanes said that if Duterte was not hiding anything, he should not be afraid.
“I already answered that question,” Duterte said, adding “Mr. Chair, ilang beses ko bang sabihin na ayaw ko” (how many times do I have to say no?).
Trillanes said Duterte’s membership in the triad was based on “intel info ” of a foreign country that he did not name, and that the proof of membership was the tattoo on his back.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee cautioned Trillanes on his line of questioning. He said senators “should not abuse any of the witnesses here” and instead ask them “respectfully” and “not to make allegations.”
In response to Lacson’s query about his source of information, Trillanes said he was willing to divulge it in an executive session.
In his opening statement, Duterte said went to the Senate as a “gesture of respect to the Senate as a whole.”
“Once and for all, I now have the time to deny any and all baseless allegations thrown against me,” Duterte said, adding his presence at the hearing “is for the Filipino people and to my fellow Dabawenyos whom I serve.’
“I am very sorry but pasayloha ko (forgive me), I cannot answer allegations based on hearsay,” he said.
Carpio in his opening statement said he and his brother in law, Paolo, have been “publicly crucified based on rumors and gossips.”
“I have no knowledge of or involvement in the illegal drugs shipment” which is the subject of the hearing.
He said he does not know Mark Taguba, has not met him and as a a lawyer represents his clients in courts and in other agencies including the Bureau of Customs.
He admitted having visited the office of then Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon once, over a case on the Designated Examination Area in Davao City that dates back to the Aquino administration.
“I refuse to answer”
When Trillanes asked Duterte if he had an account at the Philippine National Bank in Sta. Ana, Davao City, he replied “Mr. Chair, do I have to answer this irrelevant question?” before saying “I refuse to answer” as this is “not part of the inquiry.”
Trillanes replied he will tell Duterte what its relevance is and continued asking about other alleged bank accounts. Duterte repeatedly said “Mr. Chair, I refuse to asnwer” and “I am invoking my right to privacy.”
Customs lawyer Mandy Anderson said she saw Carpio once in Faeldon’s office but had “never seen” Duterte,
Duterte and Carpio arrived at the committee hearing at 10:13 a.m. and were among several resource persons. Gordon thanked them for attending at around 1:27 p.m.
File a case
“He is there to destroy. We are there to ferret out the truth,” he claimed.
“Being the son of the President, a lot of people will drop his name.” Madrid added.
He urged Trillanes to file a case in court if he thinks he has a case against the vice mayor.
He said Trillanes was “not accusing” but “fishing information from us.”
“Why will you dignify something that is questionable,” Madrid asked.
“The truth is what the client tells me,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)