MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte accused the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) of turning a blind eye to hidden wealth and allegedly contributing to a smear campaign against him during the 2016 polls.
Reviving an election issue against him, Duterte challenged the two agencies to explain why they have not investigated accusations that he has P211 million in bank accounts which he did not declare in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth.
"I'd like to address myself to the Central Bank and the AMLC, alam mo (you know), I'd like to warn you to avoid the confrontation between us…If I had that money, why did you not initiate an investigation? You cannot tell the public because you are protecting somebody," said Duterte during the 80th anniversary of the National Bureau of Investigation on Monday, November 14.
Duterte recalled how, in the middle of the 2016 campaign season, a "stupid" senator – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV – accused him of not disclosing around P211 million he supposedly had in bank accounts.
The allegation did not jive well with Duterte's popular image as a non-conventional politician who kept a simple lifestyle.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II had supposedly told Duterte that the AMLC and BSP have been "hard to deal with."
Duterte warned that he himself would look into their shortcomings with regards to investigations on hidden wealth.
He told the two agencies to explain themselves to Aguirre.
"Better go to the Secretary of Justice or I will go to you. I will call for you and you have to answer so many questions. You choose," he said, in a stern voice. "Do not make it hard for us otherwise I will make it hard for you."
He also challenged the AMLC to expose hidden wealth and corruption.
"Ipalabas 'nyo kung ano ang mali diyan. (Expose the wrongdoings there.) There are millions stashed there in the bank being kept there in the meantime. Explain to us in public or I will do the explaining for you," said Duterte.
Earlier in his speech, he mentioned the case of an individual who has supposedly laundered some P5.1 billion.
"There is a guy here now, just presently, we're digging into the records of the case and he has – not really a fake corporation but a setup just to launder the money," said Duterte.
Speaking to NBI officials and employees, the President also encouraged them to do their jobs better.
"You have to do more especially on digging records and pursuing plundered money," he said.
Fighting corruption in government was among Duterte's main promises when he ran for president. – 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.