Trillanes on UNA exposé: 8 luxury cars 'old issue'

MANILA, Philippines – The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Tuesday, October 14, turned the tables on Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the 3 senators who had been investigating corruption in the Makati city government and Vice President Jejomar Binay's alleged ill-gotten wealth.

JV Bautista, the party's secretary-general, said in a statement: “Senator Trillanes styles himself as a moral crusader, but all these years he has evaded the issue of how he was able to afford 8 luxury vehicles with his salary in the military and why he did not declare them in his SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth. This is a clear violation of the law.”

Mahirap ang nagmamalinis. Kung anu-ano ang sinasabi laban kay Vice President Binay, 'yun pala s'ya ang may nilabag na batas at may malaking itinatago,” Bautista said.

(That's the problem with somebody who portrays himself clean. He's making all these accusations against Vice President Binay, but it turns out, he's the one who has violated the law and is hiding something.)

The senator immediately issued a statement, scoffing at the "desperate move" by the camp of the vice president to "misdirect the corruption cases hurled against him." Trillanes said he had explained the issue back in 2003.

The "luxury cars" owned by Trillanes were raised during the Feliciano Commission hearing on the failed Oakwood mutiny: a Nissan Terrano, a Mitsubishi Pajero, 5 Mitsubishi Delica vans, and a motorcycle. He was then a Navy lieutenant second grade and supposedly earned a salary of around P22,000.

In his statement on Tuesday, Trillanes said he only owned at that time a second-hand 1996 Nissan Terrano, which he supposedly sold in 2007 to finance his senatorial campaign.

He denied owning the Pajero and the motorbike. He recalled an old Philippine Star story citing a certain Darlito Roca, operations officer of Lydia's Lechon, who surfaced to claim ownership of the car. 

The 5 Delicas were owned by his mother, he said. "The actual and beneficial owner thereof is my mother, a businesswoman who bought the same from the proceeds of a P2-million loan she obtained from a bank sometime in October 2000. Delicas are not luxury vehicles," he said.

"This flimsy and dubious story shows the depth Vice President Binay’s camp is willing to go just to mislead the issues at hand. I trust that the people can discern properly which stories are real and fictitious," said Trillanes. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com