Duterte to allow anti-corruption body to look into his bank records

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he will "give authority" to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to look into his bank records.

The President said this during the oath-taking of PACC members in Malacañang on Tuesday, March 6.

"Kayo (You), anytime, I will give you the authority," Duterte said.

Even before the PACC can check his bank records, the President already predicted its verdict. "Honestly, wala kayong makuha (you won't find anything)," he said.

The PACC members, he said, can even use their connections in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The BSP governor supervises the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

"You want to know my bank accounts? I'll give it to you, right now. No joke. Or if you have siblings in [the] central bank, I will not take it against you. Go ahead and open the computer," he said.

The PACC, composed of Duterte's allies, is headed by Dante Jimenez, chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

The VACC is behind the controversial complaints filed against Duterte's critics, including Senator Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang.

While the President's bank records are open to allies, he said he would not give the same access to his political opponents.

"But if you're my enemy in politics? If you want evidence, do not get it from my mouth or make me do the effort," he said.

Duterte reiterated his claim that his bank accounts contain only P40 million. If the PACC finds it contains more than this amount, he would step down. Previously, the President told soldiers to shoot him if this were the case.

"Magsobra diyan (If it goes beyond P40 million), I step down," he said.

The P40 million, said Duterte, includes his inheritance which he obtained when his family divided land in Davao among themselves.

"If it exceeds P40 million – that includes my inheritance. And the original entered is Bank of Asia and America, and that was [the] time when we had the partition of our property," said Duterte.

Why it matters: If giving authority to the PACC to look into his bank records means he will issue a bank secrecy waiver, could other bodies keen on investigating his alleged ill-gotten wealth also be allowed to use the bank records?

This includes the Office of the Ombudsman which terminated its probe into Duterte's wealth because of the AMLC's refusal to cooperate, citing the confidential nature of the bank documents.

In fact, a year ago, Duterte had already verbally ordered the AMLC  to show his net worth. Despite this, the AMLC did not cooperate with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Duterte put pressure on the Ombudsman by suspending Overall Deputy Ombudsman Carandang, the official heading the investigation, for publicizing supposedly "illegally obtained" documents that showed years of bank transactions by Duterte and his family amounting to more than P1 billion.

The probe stemmed from a complaint filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV who had alleged the Dutertes were hiding billions, contrary to their image of simple living.

Duterte has consistently refused to issue bank secrecy waivers that would reveal his bank transaction history. This was a challenge raised by Trillanes who, unlike Duterte, issued waivers of his own. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.