MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang demanded to be shown bank certification vouching for the authenticity of documents cited by VERA Files' report on P100 million worth of investments supposedly not declared by President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth.
"I challenge them. Come up with the certification from the bank that the statements are genuine, then we will comment," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Monday, January 22.
He was speaking at a Malacañang press briefing after VERA Files published its report which, using documents from Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, alleged Duterte hid huge sums of money transfers and investments.
These supposedly hidden investments include those worth P55.13 million and P41.72 million.
On Monday, Roque said, "How could I comment when the documents are not authenticated? The whole story hinges on bank documents which they could not have obtained copies of."
However, President Duterte himself had already issued statements responding to the same documents when they were used by Trillanes during the 2016 elections.
To dispute the allegations of corruption and hidden wealth, Duterte signed a Special Power of Attorney, which allows his lawyer 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."
Though Duterte insists the SPA is sufficient as a "waiver," it does not allow BPI to show his bank transaction history, which would have clearly proven Trillanes' accusations false, if indeed they were.
A year and 9 months after the accusations were first made, Duterte is yet to issue a waiver explicitly allowing the release of his bank accounts' transaction history.
Will Duterte issue a waiver given the accusations of the Vera Files report?
Roque still insisted the May 2016 Special Power of Attorney is sufficient.
"The President has said that during the elections, he has already issued a waiver. It's there," said Duterte's spokesman.
Accusations of hidden wealth directly counter the President's projected image of a man of modest means who hides nothing from the public.
While Malacañang denies the authenticity of the bank documents from Trillanes, the Office of the Ombudsman has said documents it received from the Anti-Money Laundering Council are "more or less" similar to Trillanes' documents. (READ: AMLC's bank records on Duterte show P1B flow of money)
But the AMLC later on denied providing the Office of the Ombudsman with such documents.
Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, a group allied with Duterte, filed a complaint with Malacañang against Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang, who is in charge of the probe into the Duterte family's bank transactions.
The complaint accused Carandang's allegedly "illegal and unlawful disclosure" of Duterte's and his family's bank transaction records, which they alleged are "falsified and spurious." – 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.