MANILA, Philippines — Who did you say was corrupt?
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Thursday posed this question to President Rodrigo Duterte after the Office of the Ombudsman said that based on documents from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the bank transactions of the chief executive and his family through the years amounted to over P1 billion.
De Lima said it would be difficult to fabricate AMLC records and if it does not have information about hidden wealth allegations, the council wouldn’t release any data even if it’s the President himself or the Department of Justice chief is the one requesting the agency to do so.
“Mahirap pekehin ang AMLC records. Kapag wala kang tagong yaman, katulad ko, wala talagang mailalabas ‘yan, kahit Pangulo at Secretary of Justice pa ang nag-utos sa kanila,” she said.
“Kapag meron ka namang isang bilyon, kahit Pangulo ka pa, hindi ‘yan maitatago sa AMLC [If you have P1 billion, even if that money belongs to the President, that can’t be hidden from the AMLC.]
Last year, Duterte censured AMLC for allegedly turning a blind eye to money launderers, including De Lima, who was accused by the administration of engaging in narcotics trade.
After the council caught the President’s ire, the AMLC in November released De Lima’s bank records to the DOJ but Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II did not disclose the content of the documents.
In December, Duterte again assailed AMLC officials for being allegedly uncooperative with the National Bureau of Investigation in its investigation of suspected drug criminals, saying they “are all corrupt and serving masters.”
But Aguirre said the President was only referring to three AMLC officials, including the council’s Deputy Director Vincent Salido, who were allegedly De Lima’s fraternity brothers.
The DOJ chief said last December that while the AMLC had already submitted De Lima’s records, the council was “stonewalling” because it still failed to furnish the department with the council’s assessement of the senator’s bank records.
On Thursday, De Lima said that despite “all the powers wielded” by Duterte to allegedly fabricate basis to his claim that the senator had bank transactions amounting to P10 billion, “Duterte and his Secretary of Justice are still not able to show a single centavo of AMLC bank transaction records to prove that drug money flowed into my bank accounts. Not even one peso.”
Recently, the Office of the Ombudsman announced that it had recommended the conduct of a fact-finding investigation on the the wealth of Duterte and his family based on the complaint filed in May 2016 by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
According to overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, the Ombudsman’s office now has a copy of bank records from the AMLC that “more or less” look like Duterte’s supposed bank transactions attached by Trillanes to the complaint he filed last year.
“Ngayon Ginoong Duterte, sino kamo ang kurakot? Sana bawiin mo na ang mga pekeng paratang mo sa akin [Now, Mister Duterte, who did you say was corrupt? I hope that you will withdraw your fake accusation against me],” De Lima said.