MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s admission that he had committed corruption was said in jest and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV apparently has no sense of humor because he took the joke seriously.
This was according to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, who on Tuesday defended the President from Trillanes’ claim that the chief executive’s admission of stealing many things had bolstered corruption allegations against him.
“I think the senator seems to lack a sense of humor. It was said in jest, obviously,” Abella said.
Earlier in the day, the office of Trillanes sent to media an excerpt of Duterte’s speech during the 140th founding anniversary of the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association last month wherein the President said that while he detested corruption, he had also committed such dishonest conduct by stealing many things in the past but he had already spent it all.
“I hate corruption. Hindi ako nagmamalinis. Marami rin akong nanakaw pero naubos na, so wala na,” Duterte said last June 28 during the event held at the Grand Ballroom of the Manila Hotel, which was met with laughter.
“So… wala na (it’s no longer there),” Duterte continued. “Pero (But) corruption is really out during my term.”
Watch the 38-minute mark of the video for this part of Duterte’s speech:
Trillanes said Duterte’s admission “should be a reason” for the Office of the Ombudsman “to expedite the investigation” into the plunder complaint that the senator filed in May last year against the then Davao City mayor during the height of the presidential campaign.
In his May 5, 2016 complaint, Trillanes accused Duterte of having P2.4 billion worth of bank deposits, which the latter could have sourced from the salaries of 11,000 alleged Davao ghost employees.
The complaint also alleges that Duterte had committed malversation of public funds and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.