MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang challenged Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to prove his "drastic" claim that the president's son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte is a member of a Chinese criminal organization.
"Those are very serious allegations. And he better – he needs to have some pretty substantial evidence to support that statement," said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Thursday, September 7.
He was speaking at a Palace news briefing happening at the same time as a Senate hearing in which Trillanes challenged Duterte to show a tattoo on his back which supposedly proves he is a member of a drug triad. Duterte refused.
Trillanes, among President Rodrigo Duterte's loudest critics in Congress, said this proves the younger Duterte's guilt.
"That’s pretty drastic," said Abella about the senator's allegations.
Trillanes said the information about the Vice Mayor's tattoo was given to him by a "foreign country."
During the senate hearing, he also showed photos of Paolo Duterte with businessman Charlie Tan, who Senator Panfilo Lacson tagged as a member of the so-called "Davao Group" which allegedly wields influence in the Bureau of Customs.
One of the photos even showed Tan with President Duterte himself to prove the supposed close ties of the businessman with the First Family.
But Abella said these photos don't hold enough weight.
"For matters like that, I think he really needs to provide substantial evidence. I mean, aside from pictures and anecdotes," said Abella.
Vice Mayor Duterte and the president's son-in-law Manases Carpio both admitted being friends with Tan but denied they are involved in smuggling. – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.