PRESIDENTIAL candidate Rodrigo Duterte is thinking of suing Senator Antonio Trillanes following the allegation that the Davao City mayor has around P200 million in undeclared wealth.
Duterte's spokesperson Peter Laviña said Duterte's legal experts are looking into the possible cases that can be filed against Trillanes.
Duterte, who attended the presidential dialogues hosted by the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines Tuesday at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati, denied the existence of the bank account claimed by Trillanes, but says that he will not make it easy for the senator. In legal battles, the burden of proof is on the accuser and Duterte is taking this tack.
"Maniwala kayo. That's garbage. You can check with the bank. You go there," Duterte said.
Responding to reporters' questions, he said he signed a waiver for his bank accounts but it does not cover the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) account referred to by Trillanes.
"I signed a waiver, yes, but I will make it hard for Trillanes," Duterte said. "What he showed was only papers."
He said Trillanes must show proof to back his claim. Being the accuser, the burden of proof lies with the senator.
"You (Trillanes) prove it. I will not make it easy for you. I will not play into your hands," he said.
He then called the vice presidential candidate a liar. Duterte had also earlier called Trillanes an idiot.
"I told you, he is a liar. He fabricated this," the leading presidential candidate said.
Trillanes had earlier sought to be Duterte's vice presidential running mate. Duterte, however, chose Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
Trillanes is doing this because I rejected him, Duterte said.
"This is election," Duterte said. "End game na eh."
On Wednesday, a national daily headlined Trillanes accusation that Duterte had at least P211 million in an account at a bank branch in Metro Manila in 2014, but failed to declare it in his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN).
"That (Duterte's P211-million bank account) is just the tip of the iceberg. You have no idea how wealthy Duterte is," Trillanes said in a television interview.
Trillanes, who is supporting the presidential bid of Senator Grace Poe, said his camp validated Duterte’s bank account and noted that it was under the BPI branch in Julia Vargas Avenue in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
"I stand by my track record in exposing political pretenders like Mayor Duterte," Trillanes said. "I am now so motivated to make sure that he doesn’t become the president of our country."
But Duterte's running mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, hit back at Trillanes, saying his allegation is obviously a desperate ploy to bring down Duterte and promote Poe.
"It's quite sad that a supposed principled man like Trillanes will resort to such a cheap and shameful gimmick. It’s a pitiful sight to see Senator Trillanes reduce himself from being a protector of the people to a 'Poetector,'" Cayetano said in a statement.
Cayetano said Duterte has nothing to hide and is, in fact, the "only presidential candidate to sign a bank secrecy waiver".
"It's unfortunate that Senator Trillanes comes out with a cheap tricks, despite the throng of consultants or 'Poetectors' on his payroll. If the only thing they can come up with is a baseless accusation against Mayor Duterte, clearly, they have nothing on him," Cayetano said.
"I asked the people who yearn for real change not to be distracted and fooled by their desperate antics. We must remain focused. The enemies of change are clearly panicking. They are scared. They are throwing the entire kitchen sink at Mayor Duterte. They have all the reasons to be scared," he added. (With Sunnex)