THE loss of the Scarborough Shoal to the Chinese has led to the accumulation of alleged ill-gotten wealth of Senator Antonio Trillanes in his supposed off-shore bank accounts, President Rodrigo Duterte insinuated Friday.
In a television interview, Duterte once again questioned Trillanes’ role as back-channel negotiator for the Philippines in its claims involving Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal—saying the opposition senator “had earned” from his talks with the Chinese.
“He was going back and forth, eight or nine times in China and his money had accumulated—that’s the time we lost the Scarborough Shoal,” the President said in an interview aired over state-run television PTV4.
Soon after winning the presidency, Duterte said that Trillanes could have committed treason in his backchannel talks with Chinese officials over the West Philippine sea claims, as he reiterated someone should answer for the loss of the Scarborough Shoal to the Chinese.
In an interview last May, Duterte said Trillanes had initiated secret “back-channel” talks with the Chinese government that could have only put in jeopardy the Philippine interest over the shoal.
“Trillanes went [to China] there 16 times,” Duterte said.
“After the 16th visit, we have lost the Scarborough Shoal,” he added.
“To me, it’s treason,” he said. “Somebody has to answer for that, it means livelihood for the Philippines, for the Filipinos, our fishermen will be deprived,” he said.
On April 8, 2012—eight mainland Chinese fishing vessels anchored in the disputed Scarborough Shoal were apprehended by the Philippine Navy for illegally collecting corals, giant clams and live sharks—only to be blocked by Chinese maritime surveillance ships, China Marine Surveillance 75 (Zhongguo Haijian 75) and China Marine Surveillance 84 (Zhongguo Haijian 84).
Since then, tensions have continued between the two countries that led to cyber attack exchanges, banning of Philippine fruit exports and suspension of tours to the country.
At that time, President Benigno Aquino III revealed Trillanes called and offered to be the country’s backroom negotiator to China at the height of the shoal standoff—only recalling that there seemed to be “belligerence” on the side of Beijing, where talks through diplomatic channels apparently bogged down, prompting him to avail the presidency of Trillanes’ offer.
Citing sources from a “foreign country,” Duterte said Trillanes had several currency accounts in Shanghai, Zurich, Geneva and Singapore—all “flagged as having international transactions.”
Aside from these, the opposition solon allegedly had savings accounts in the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands.
“Our provider suggested that we focus on the Zurich bank accounts, and Singapore bank accounts since all of these are single bank accounts without co-depositors. Additionally, the information that we provided has existing slips as evidence of these two accounts and were acknowledged to be in existence,” the President said.
Without naming the first bank, Duterte said that an account in Zurich, with account number 927519921320 had a balance of $75,000—amounting to P3,801,385.05.
Another account in the Singapore DBS bank with account number 178000296012 had a balance of 193,000—but he did not mention in what denomination
Duterte said the senator might have agreed to sign a bank account since his names weren’t matching with his complete name Antonio Fuentes Trillanes.
“Maybe that’s why he’s willing to sign a bank waiver because no [bank accounts matched those] for in the name of Antonio Trillanes—but the account has been confirmed,” the President said.
Duterte likewise blasted Trillanes for allegedly having more than 200 consulants, from the disbursement acceleration program, which was found illegal by the Supreme Court in 2014 for improper use of savings and inter-branch transfer of appropriations.
“The choice was questioned by the Commission on Audit. It will be released. I would have it released because it’s wrong,” he said.
He likewise blasted Trillanes for being “ambitious,” after he showed a picture between him and the Senator after he encouraged him to be his Vice President.
In the Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson mocked Friday former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon who, he said, had the right to waste bond paper and ink following his threats of filing an ethics complaint against him and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for implicating him in the massive corruption at the Bureau of Customs.
“Anyway, he has the money to pay his lawyers even if it’s tantamount to an exercise in futility and stupidity,” Lacson said as he jeered Faeldon on his ethcs complaint.
Lacson noted it was the right of anybody to file an ethics complaint against any senator.
“In fact, that was the advice to him by Sen. [Richard] Gordon when he visited him in his detention place,” said Lacson.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Money Laundering Council has confirmed receipt of the 12 bank secrecy waivers signed by Trillanes, who was accused by President Rodrigo Duterte of having offshore bank accounts.
A copy of the letter sent by AMLC executive director Mel Georgie Racela to Trillanes was provided to the Senate media by the senator’s office.
“Said sworn waiver of secrecy of bank deposits authorizes the Office of the Ombudsman and the Anti-Money Laundering Council to open and look into the supposed bank accounts [including closed accounts if any] allegedly under the senator’s name, and specifying 12 different bank accounts from various banks, branches and countries,” Racela said.
“The Senator further waives any and all rights to the secrecy and/or confidentiality of the above-mentioned bank accounts under RA No. 1405 [Law on Secrecy of Bank Deposits] and/or RA No. 6426 [Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines] or any other laws in the jurisdiction where said accounts are located to this effect in favor of the Office of the Ombudsman and AMLC,” he added.
He also cited Article VI of the Constitution on the matter which provides that: Section 11- “A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. NO MEMBER SHALL BE QUESTIONED NOR BE HELD LIABLE IN ANY OTHER PLACE FOR ANY SPEECH OR DEBATE IN THE CONGRESS OR IN ANY COMMITTEE THEREOF (capital letters not the Standard’s).”
The President said when pushed against the wall, the bank accounts belonged to Antonio Trillanes. “And he signed the waivers under the name Antonio Trillanes, and there are many Antonio Trillanes.”
On the Faeldon issue, Trillanes said Faeldon, who has been detained at the Senate detention facility since Monday for contempt charge due to his refusal to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee investigating the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling, was a man who seemed unable to run out of gimmicks.
“But at the end of the day, he needs to face the Committee and answer our questions,” Trillanes added.
In a privilege speech, Lacson accused Faeldon and other Customs officials of receiving “tara” or bribes. He also said Faeldon got P100-million “welcome gift” when he assumed his post at the BoC.
Faeldon retaliated by exposing alleged involvement of Lacson’s son Pampi in cement smuggling at the BoC.
On the other hand, Trillanes said Faeldon, a former colleague at the Magdalo group, was at the heart of the smuggling of shabu from China.
Faeldon was the commissioner when the 605 kilos of shabu shipment from Xiamen, China, slipped past the BoC after it was made to pass through the green lane. The contraband was later recovered in a warehouse in Valenzuela.
Faeldon’s counsel Jose Diño Jr. said the former Customs official would personally file the complaint against Lacson before the Senate ethics committee on Monday.
“Capt. Faeldon will request for permission from the OSAA [Office of the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms] to be allowed to personally file, under guard of course, his verified ethics complaint on Monday, 18 September 2017 at 11 a.m.,” Diño said.
Diño added Faeldon would also file a separate complaint against Trillanes the week after next.
Trillanes submitted the bank secrecy waivers on Monday, covering all foreign bank accounts he supposedly owns as alleged by the President, journalist Erwin Tulfo, Mocha Uson and a certain BenTesiorna, the person behind the “Davao Breaking News” website.
The President said Trillanes had bank accounts in Hong Kong, Australia, America, and Malaysia. He said the senator owned some of these bank accounts with Chinese nationals.
Tulfo and Uson said the senator had bank accounts in Singapore, Switzerland, and New Zealand.
As Trillanes threatened to file a libel case against Tesiorna, Tulfo and Uson, the latter said she merely lifted them from the webwite Davao Breaking News. She also insisted the use of the word “umano’y” or “alleged” that she believed could spare her from a libel charge.
Trillanes also submitted 12 bank secrecy waivers to the Office of the Ombudsman to disprove Duterte’s allegations.
In the waiver, Trillanes stated he submitted such document to “debunk the false allegations being circulated” that he owns “secret bank accounts with various offshore banks.”
Trillanes called “fake” the supposed details of his foreign bank accounts posted by pro-administration websites and personalities He challenged again the President to sign bank secrecy waivers.
“You can’t just be all talk, you have to sign a waiver. If you’re brave, if you’re not corrupt, then sign a waiver like I did, addressed to the AMLC and Ombudsman. But I know you won’t do that because you’re afraid of the truth. I know you’re corrupt, just like your family,” he said.
Towards the end of the campaign period in the 2016 elections, Trillanes accused Duterte of having billions of pesos in secret bank accounts during the 2016 campaign.
Duterte has repeatedly declined to sign waiver on bank secrecy, saying it would amount to self-incrimination and tantamount to giving in to his critic.
“If he wants to get evidence, do not get it from my mouth. You must be stupid, even if it is true or false,” Duterte said.
“Why would I give you the pleasure? If he wants to look for evidence, then he should look (elsewhere). Why should he involve me?” he said.
Meanwhile, Tesiorna stressed that the bank accounts they said belonged to Trillanes. were “verified true and authentic.”
“Whatever documents we posted in our website were verified true and authentic,” he said.
“Now as to [whether] he really owns the accounts or not, that remains to be determined. But the fact remains that there are bank accounts to prove their contention,” he added.
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