Duterte refuses to sign bank secrecy waiver

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has no plans of signing a bank secrecy waiver to match those signed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to disprove allegations of hidden wealth.

"If Trillanes wants to finds something of fault with me. Tell him, 'Go somewhere else and fly a kite,'" said Duterte on Tuesday, September 13 during a media interview at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, where he attended the wake of an army captain killed in Marawi.

The President said he refuses to issue a waiver and bank account transaction history because it would be self-incrimination and tantamount to giving in to Trillanes.

"If he want to get evidence, do not get it from my mouth. You must be stupid, even if it is true or false," he said.

"Why would I give you the pleasure? If he wants to look for evidence, then he should look. Why should he involve me?" he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Duterte said that he had to "go to lengths" to obtain details of Trillanes' supposed offshore joint bank accounts with Chinese nationals. The senator, he said, cannot have it so easy.

Art of crime

The President promised he would soon make public bank records and other evidence that Trillanes has joint bank accounts with Chinese nationals in countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, and the United States – evidence he said was "supplied" by a "foreign government."

"We are building a case," he said.

The President claims the information he has proves that Trillanes has "perfected the art of crime." 

He claimed his critic in Congress was confident to sign bank secrecy waivers since the Anti-Money Laundering Council will be unable to act on them anyway if the person he shares a bank account with does not also sign a waiver.

"Even if he signs a waiver, if the co-signer does not, nothing will happen. And the bank would never, never name who is the partner," said Duterte.

Trillanes also supposedly made sure that he transacted in amounts less than those that would raise alarms with the AMLC.

"Definitely, the amounts he was dealing with [are] less than the amount that would raise the red flag, like P500,000. Because someone would interfere," said Duterte.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trillanes signed 12 bank secrecy waivers and submitted them to the AMLC and Ombudsman.

He did so to disprove Duterte's claim that he was hiding funds in offshore accounts. The senator challenged Duterte to do the same to clear himself of the allegation that he had P211 million in one of his bank accounts.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the Special Power of Attorney signed in May 2016 is as good as a waiver.

However, the SPA, addressed to BPI Julia Vargas branch, does not explicitly allow the bank to disclose the transaction history of Duterte's account. 

It also only instructs BPI to disclose documents which prove the specific amount of P211 million was never deposited, either singly or collectively, into the account, thus limiting its scope. – 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.

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