The Philippine president refused a demand by his most vocal critic to publicly release details of his bank accounts to disprove allegations he had large sums of undeclared money.
President Rodrigo Duterte said in a news conference on Wednesday that if opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes wanted “to get evidence, do not get it from my mouth. You must be stupid ... Why would I give you the pleasure?”
Trillanes first alleged Duterte had unexplained wealth during the presidential campaign last year. In February, he publicly raised the issue again because he said Duterte had not yet revealed details of the more than 2 billion pesos (US$39 million) he allegedly kept in bank accounts as a former city mayor.
Undeclared joint bank accounts
Duterte inadvertently brought the issue back to public focus recently when he alleged Trillanes has several undeclared joint bank accounts with unidentified Chinese men in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia and the US. Trillanes denied it and signed about a dozen waivers for authorities to look into the alleged bank accounts and demanded that Duterte do the same.
Duterte went on a personal attack of Trillanes, one of his harshest critics and a former navy officer once detained for a failed coup plot. He mocked Trillanes for losing the vice presidential race last year and alleged that the senator keeps huge funds in his bank accounts in amounts just below the level that could spark a Central Bank inquiry.
Duterte said a move by another senator to file an ethical complaint against Trillanes could lead to his expulsion from the chamber “because of his behaviour”.
Trillanes is among key officials critical of some of Duterte’s policies who are facing ouster attempts by the president’s political allies who overwhelmingly dominate the Philippine Congress.
On Wednesday, the majority of the members of the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives voted to declare an impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno sufficient to investigate her.