Palace: Duterte unfazed by Ombudsman's probe on wealth

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — Malacañang on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte remains undaunted by the ongoing probe on his family's wealth and bank records.

"At any rate, the President is not perturbed by the baseless assertions of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV concerning the alleged bank records," said Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo in a statement.

Overall Deputy Ombudsman (ODO) Arthur Carandang also confirmed the probe on the Presidential family's wealth, in response to a plunder complaint filed by Trillanes during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"The investigation in the complaint filed by Sen. Trillanes is going on and being conducted not by FIO (Field Investigation Office) but by the field investigation unit of our office in Davao," Carandang told CNN Philippines.

READ: Trillanes files plunder complaint vs. Duterte

However, Panelo warned Carandang he should not reveal details of an ongoing investigation, otherwise he may face administrative charges.

"We remind ODO Carandang that investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes to the extent that the production of such records deprives a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication should not be disclosed while the proceedings are ongoing," Panelo said.

He also clarified reports that the Ombudsman has received a copy of Duterte's bank records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), showing a cash flow worth P1 billion.

"The alleged bank records of the President…do not indicate that he is hiding money in the total amount of more than P1 billion, and that the same is ill gotten," Panelo said. "The alleged amount was computed based on 'in-and-out' bank transactions of the President's family through the years."

Ombudsman chair Conchita Carpio-Morales has delegated cases involving the Duterte family to Carandang after inhibiting herself, as she is the aunt of Manases Carpio, the husband of Presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

READ: Duterte calls Trillanes' evidence trash

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Thursday also said Duterte welcomes the Ombudsman's probe on his bank records.

"He respects the internal processes and if at all, and if they really truly have substantial evidence. We trust their impartiality on the matter," he said.

Allegations on Duterte's wealth

During the campaign period in 2016, Trillanes alleged that Duterte had at least P2 billion in several bank accounts.

The President responded by ordering the AMLC to release information on his net worth.

READ: Duterte orders AMLC to release info on his net worth

Trillanes also challenged Duterte to sign a waiver for the bank accounts and resign if the allegations were proven true.

He added as the flow of money started in 2006, it was not part of Duterte's campaign fund.

The senator alleged that a portion of the money came about during Duterte's time as mayor of Davao City, and was from illegal activities like smuggling, illegal gambling, mining protection, and illegal drug shipments.

Trillanes vindicated

Trillanes on Thursday said he welcomes the progress in the probe,  after the Office of the Ombudsman confirmed it has received a copy of the bank records of Duterte from the AMLC.

"I feel vindicated. Siyempre, talagang natutuwa tayo na kinumpirma ng Ombudsman na totoo yung aking mga allegations na bilyun-bilyon ang pumasok sa mga bank account ni Duterte," Trillanes said.

[Translation: I feel vindicated. Of course, we are glad that the Ombudsman confirmed my allegations that Duterte's bank accounts received billions of pesos.]

He added that although the President has immunity from suits, he could still be subject to investigation, which could then be the basis of the next impeachment complaint.

Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano had filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte in May 2017 over alleged corruption and extrajudicial killing.

The complaint will lapse after one year.

READ: Duterte faces impeachment complaint over alleged killings, corruption

"Significant itong kanilang pagkumpirma kasi babasagin nito ang mga pagkukunwari ni Duterte na siya raw ay galing sa mahirap at sinasabi niya na wala siyang ganitong kalaking pera sa bangko," Trillanes said.

[Translation: This confirmation is significant because it will break Duterte's image that he comes from a poor family, saying he has no money this big in his bank accounts.]

CNN Philippines' Senior Correspondent Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.