By Catherine S Valente & Llanesca T Panti /Manila Times
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte should face allegations that he has hidden wealth and explain how he got his billions because he has confused the public with his contradictory statements, Malacanang said yesterday.
Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon said Duterte should squarely face the issue instead of blaming the Palace for the revelations regarding his deposits.
“This is one thing that should be faced by Mayor Duterte,” Quezon said in a radio interview.
He stressed that issues about money, especially if it involved public officials, should be taken seriously.
“The people are confused because as we can see in the past days, the good mayor’s version of the story changes from day to day,” Quezon said.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes had claimed that the tough-talking mayor has over P200mn in his account at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Julia Vargas branch in Pasig City.
The tough-talking mayor had been flippant in his remarks regarding his deposits.
“First, he said there was no account, then he said there’s one but it has little money. Later he said there’s an account that contains millions but not amounting to P200mn,” Quezon said.
“Just enough for a good time,” the Palace official added.
Manuel “Mar” Roxas, the presidential bet of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said Duterte’s mouth is as dirty as his hands because he failed to explain the origin of his cash stash that was not declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
Duterte, who is known for his penchant to cuss during sorties, denied having accounts at BPI but Roxas’ camp confirmed the existence of the mayor’s peso and dollar accounts after making deposits.
“His mouth is as dirty as his hands. He can’t prove the source of these deposits. Trust is very important for our people, and nobody would trust a person who can’t explain such wealth and where did it go,” Roxas told reporters in Laoag City before his meeting with First District representative Rodolfo Farinas and dozens of mayors.
Roxas noted that under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, accepting ostentatious gifts is illegal and any unexplained wealth is presumed ill-gotten.
Farinas, a lawyer, shared Roxas’ sentiments.
“Gifts are allowed, if they are on minimal amount. If it’s big and if it’s from a donor, there’s also donor’s tax. So Mayor Duterte has a lot of explaining to do,” Farinas said.
“He (Duterte) has been getting away with it because nobody is questioning him about it in Davao. That is the challenge we are facing here. Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Roxas quipped.
Duterte’s camp yesterday said President Benigno Aquino is behind the demolition job against the mayor.
In a statement, Duterte’s campaign manager Leoncio Evasco Jr accused Aquino and his administration of “orchestrating a last ditch demolition job” against Duterte.
“(Senator Antonio) Trillanes is but a pawn. The brain behind is Malacanang,” Evasco said. He added that they expected the black propaganda to become “more vicious and intense” as Duterte began rising in surveys.
The latest Pulse Asia-ABS-CBN survey shows that Duterte continues to enjoy a wide lead over closest rival Senator Grace Poe.
“The Aquino administration is bent on thwarting a victory by Duterte. It is desperately trying to save the candidacy of Mar Roxas and is poised to employ all means, including massive cheating, to maintain the status quo,” Evasco said.
“They made the election a very dirty political exercise. They want it confined among the elite. They cannot stomach an outsider, one who has captivated the imagination of the people but does not come from their ranks,” he added.
Evasco said Aquino and Roxas “belong to the landed elite who only have contempt against the majority of Filipinos clamouring for genuine and real change.”
“During the watch of (Aquino) and Roxas, we saw how they remorselessly sacrificed the lives of our gallant police officers in Mamasapano,” Evasco said.
“When hungry farmers demanded rice because of the severe drought killing their children, they answered back by firing at the protesters and in the process killing three and wounding scores of others. It was an exercise of brutal state euthanasia,” he added.
But despite the series of attacks against Duterte, Evasco said people continue to rally behind the mayor.
“For the first time, people have rallied behind a man – a leader – who is giving them hope,” he said.
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