Palace: Stop Trillanes' 'baseless' claims by demanding proof

Story updated to include statements of Sen. Richard Gordon.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 8) — Stop Senator Antonio Trillanes from making "baseless claims" against President Rodrigo Duterte and his family, Malacañang said Friday.

"His tactics had been foisted on public and media time and again. And the only way to stop this is to demand proof from anyone making baseless claims," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.

Abella warned against a "particular senator," whose identity, he said, does not need clarification. He was referring to Trillanes, who is a vocal critic of Duterte and his administration.

The Palace thanked the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for giving President Duterte's son and son-in-law a "chance to debunk baseless allegations" in a hearing on September 7. The committee is investigating corruption at customs and the smuggling of over P6-billion worth of shabu from China.

"While nearly all senators showed respect for truth and reason, we caution against a particular one, who made baseless claims of purported bank accounts and body markings and then prodded witnesses to disprove his claims instead of presenting validating proofs," Abella said.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairperson Richard Gordon agreed to this, saying Trillanes' claims have no basis.

"He should have presented (the proof) and that might have laid the predicate," Gordon told CNN Philippines Friday.

During a Senate hearing on Thursday, Trillanes accused Davao City Mayor Paolo Duterte of being a member of a Chinese drug syndicate or triad, saying a tattoo on the presidential son's back would prove this.

Trillanes asked Paolo Duterte to show his tattoo to prove or debunk the allegation, but he refused to do so, invoking his right to privacy.

Gordon said he "almost fell off (his) seat" when Trillanes asked about the tattoo.

"What is that? No connection, whatsoever," Gordon said.

Trillanes also accused Paolo Duterte and Mans Carpio - husband of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte - of having over P100 million each in their bank accounts. He said these may have come from smuggling and drug activities.

READ: Trillanes: Paolo Duterte a Chinese drug triad member

Paolo Duterte and Carpio were invited to the Senate hearing after a Customs fixer, citing "hearsay," said they are part of a so-called "Davao Group."  The group had been asking brokers for bribes to hasten the release of shipments at the Bureau of Customs, fixer Mark Taguba said.

READ: 'Davao Group': A cast of aliases

Taguba "retracted" his statements and apologized to the President and his family.

Taguba on Thursday said he was not changing his testimony but clarified Paolo Duterte and Carpio's names were only mentioned to him by members of the "Davao Group" whom he knew only by their aliases.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Richard Gordon said he is not inclined to inviting Paolo Duterte and Carpio again to the next hearing on September 11.

President Duterte has said he is willing to step down if any member of his family is proven corrupt.