Pimentel on Senate probe into Duterte’s wealth: ‘A tragic waste of time’

Camille Elemia
Pimentel on Senate probe into Duterte’s wealth: ‘A tragic waste of time’
But why did the Senate investigate the issues against former Vice President Jejomar Binay and family? Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III says 'Evidence??? Word vs building! That is a building of a difference!'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III opposed a Senate investigation into the alleged ill-gotten wealth of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family.

Pimentel, party mate of Duterte in PDP-Laban, hit Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s resolution calling for a Senate probe and said it would just be a “tragic waste of time.”

If Trillanes really has evidence, Pimentel said he should bring the case to the proper forum.

“Before, he tried it against Pulong Duterte and Mans Carpio. Now it’s the same thing against other members of the Duterte family,” Pimentel said, referring to Trillanes’ smuggling accusations against presidential son Paolo Duterte and son-in-law Manases Carpio.

“If he really has the evidence then he should bring an actual case in the proper body. Senate is not the body for that. We are part of legislative action. But if this is part of just making this issue land in the news then this should not be allowed. It will be a tragic waste of time by the Senate,” Pimentel added.

Trillanes, in response, said he filed a “valid” resolution as part of the Senate’s oversight functions.

“Senator Pimentel, even as Senate President, has no power to disallow its referral. Masyado namang syang ninenerbyos agad para sa amo nya. (He’s too nervous for his boss).

 Besides, it was Duterte himself who challenged the Senate to investigate his bank account. So, ito na ang sagot sa hamon ng amo nya (this is the answer to his boss’ challenge).

In 2014, the Senate blue ribbon committee allowed marathon hearings into the alleged corrupt activities of then Vice President Jejomar Binay and family. Binay was accused of alleged overpricing of a Makati “parking building.” At the time, Pimentel was the subcommittee chairman handling the proceedings. (READ: Pimentel defends year-long Senate probe on Binay)

Asked about the difference between the Duterte and Binay cases, Pimentel said:

“Evidence? Word vs building! That is a building of a difference!” he told Rappler.

The Senate hearings became the venue to show and scrutinize the contracts, which produced the so-called evidence, involving the building in question.

It was Trillanes who first exposed the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Duterte during the 2016 campaign. He has continuously challenged the President to sign bank waivers but the latter has repeatedly refused to do so.

During the campaign, Duterte said he came from a poor family. But the President has changed his tune, saying his family was rich and that he already had millions of pesos when he was still in school. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com