Panelo on Trillanes' challenge to Duterte: Previous 'waiver' still valid

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the Special Power of Attorney (SPA) signed last year by President Rodrigo Duterte in response to allegations of unexplained wealth remains valid.

Thus, said Panelo on Monday, September 11, the document is a sufficient response to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's renewed challenge that Duterte sign a bank secrecy waiver allowing the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to look into his bank accounts.

"The same has been done a long time ago particularly in the first week of May 2016 with BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) as regards his allegation that PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) has P211 million in his savings account. The waiver remains valid," said Panelo in a statement.

The May 2016 document Panelo is referring to is the SPA allowing Panelo – then one of Duterte's campaign lawyers – to "request and receive" from the BPI Julia Vargas branch "bank certificates for BPI Savings Account No. 2433-0695-39" in order to "show the current balance as well as the fact that at no time since the opening of the aforesaid Bank Account was there a deposit either singly or collectively of Two Hundred Eleven Million Pesos."

When the SPA was first publicized, Trillanes said it was insufficient since it did not specifically authorize BPI to show the transaction history of the account.

But Panelo, on Monday, said the wording of the SPA does allow this.

The sentence, said the lawyer, about allowing BPI to certify that there was no single or collective transaction worth P211 million involving the account "goes to the very transactional details of the account of the President."

However, the SPA does not explicitly state BPI can release the account's transaction history. Without such an explicit instruction, and with the SPA specifying only the amount of P211 million, it's unclear if BPI will reveal the transaction history just based on the May 2016 SPA.

Trillanes issued the challenge to Duterte anew after himself submitting 12 bank secrecy waivers to the AMLC and the Office of the Ombudsman.

If Duterte truly has nothing to hide, he should do the same, said the opposition senator.

Trillanes signed the waivers in response to Duterte's allegation that he has offshore joint accounts with Chinese nationals in Malaysia, Hong Kong, the United States, and Australia. (READ: Malacañang confident Duterte has 'substantial' evidence vs Trillanes)

The senator, meanwhile, accused Duterte and his family of hiding P2.4 billion in wealth. He also claimed that Duterte's eldest son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, is part of a Chinese triad. (READ: Duterte shows rose tattoo amid calls to see Paolo's– 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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