WATCH | Duterte again vows to quit, file raps vs BOC employees, his own children if proven they’re into corrupt deals

August 9, 2017 - 10:07 PM
President Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte/Reuters file photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he would step down, fire and sue Bureau of Customs employees, and also file charges against members of his own family if it would be proven that any of them had illegal transactions with BOC personnel.

Sinuman ‘yong [Whoever is the] official who entertained, with the intervention of any of my sons and daughters, that is enough for me. I will fire you and I will press charges against you, my relative, whoever he is and you’ll have the luxury of seeing me go down. Hindi ko na kailangan itong trabaho na ito [I no longer need this job],” said the chief executive during his speech at the Philippine Development Forum in Mandaluyong City Wednesday night.

Duterte issued the statement two days after customs broker Mark Taguba said during an inquiry by the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs that the President’s eldest child, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo “Polong” Duterte, was allegedly being “name-dropped” by those at the BOC whom Taguba claimed to have received tara or grease money from him, namely “Tita Nani,” “Jake,” and “Small.”

Earlier resign promises

This wasn’t the first time that Duterte promised to step down over issues and allegations that could affect his credibility as a leader.

Last May, the President likewise said that if he won’t be able to “confront” terrorists in Mindanao, “I will resign.”

“If I am incompetent and incapable of keeping order in this country, let me step down and give the job to somebody else,” he added.

In February 2017, he also vowed to immediately resign if Sen. Antonio Trillanes would be able to prove that he had illegally amassed P2 billion or if bank accounts under his name had a total deposit at one time of even just half a billion pesos.

In March 2017, the President likewise said he was ready to resign if it would be proven that he had evaded tax payments.

In July 2016, the chief executive said that if Congress would be able to complete the process toward federalism in two to four years, he would offer his resignation to make way for the election of new leaders.

In January 2016, when Duterte was still a presidential candidate, the then Davao mayor promised that if elected as the country’s highest leader, he would quit if he would fail to eradicate crimes, illegal drugs, and corruption in three to six months from his assumption in office.

Paolo dismisses smuggling allegations

On Wednesday, the elder Duterte said he was aware that Paolo was being linked to alleged illegal smuggling activities at the BOC.

“‘Yang anak ko ngayon, sinasali diyan sa Customs. Sabi ko sa inyo, kung mayroon sa mga anak ko ang involved sa corruption, I will immediately resign. That I promise you,” he said.

[My child is being linked there at Customs. I told you, if any of my children is involved in corruption, I will immediately resign. That I promise you.]

On Tuesday, Paolo dismissed the allegation.

“Taguba admitted that his testimony against me was based entirely on rumors. Why would we entertain or believe a hearsay? One does not dignify lies with a response,” the vice mayor said in a statement sent to reporters.

He also challenged his accusers to a file case against him.

Tagalog, Matobato, Lascañas also linked Paolo to alleged smuggling

It wasn’t the first time that Paolo’s name was dragged into the alleged smuggling activities at the BOC.

In April 2016, Perfecto Tagalog of the Coalition of Filipino Consumers alleged that “Davao City is a smugglers’ haven because it’s (then) Mayor Duterte’s son himself who is the lord of the smugglers.”

According to Tagalog, a 2007 report by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) indicated that Paolo was allegedly involved in smuggling activities.

“Intelligence information…[indicated] that a certain Glen Escandor, son of Col. [Emilio D.] Escandor and owner of Mandaya Hotel, and Paolo Duterte aka Polong, son of Mayor Duterte of Davao City, are business partners in smuggling activities and are responsible in the proliferation of smuggled Sub-Urban Vehicles and high-end cars in the area,” the Dec. 7, 2007 PSG report signed by Rosauro Bautista, PASG team leader 2, stated.

“These activities are being undertaken without any arrest or apprehension by concerned government agencies due to the alleged power and influence of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the father of Paolo,” the report added.

Peter Lavina, then Mayor Duterte’s media bureau chief, dismissed Tagalog’s allegation as black propaganda against the city chief, who joined the presidential race.

“They should have filed cases long ago. Why raise the issue now?” Lavina said.

In September 2016, confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato testified before the Senate Committee on justice and Human Rights also linked Paolo to alleged smuggling operations in Davao City, claiming he had once delivered P3 million in payola for customs officers for the vice mayor at the Sasa Wharf in 2013 – an allegation that was also denied by Paolo.

“[President Duterte] is angry at smugglers but he doesn’t know that his son handles smuggling rice and oil in Davao City,” said Matobato.

In March 2017, during an inquiry by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, retired Davao police officer Arturo Lascañas also claimed that Paolo was allegedly involved in smuggling activities.

Lascañas testified that either in 2012 or 2013, Paolo asked him to help in fast-tracking the shipment of a 40-foot container from China after its transport to Davao was delayed for some months.

Inside the container were supposedly furniture items for Paolo’s residence.

According to Lascañas, a certain Davao-based trader Charlie Tan, whom Paolo allegedly met in China, asked that Paolo’s container be inserted with “souvenirs.” He said Paolo suspected that shabu had been placed in the cargo.

Paolo then allegedly asked Lascañas to escort the container van until it arrives at the covered court in Barangay Catalunan, Davao City.

The supposed plan was to open the van upon arrival and for Lascañas and other authorities to immediately arrest Tan, who according to Lascañas owned a karaoke bar in Ecoland, Davao City and was known in the city to have links to the narcotics trade.

However, when the delivery arrived, Lascañas alleged that Paolo called him up and told him that he would arbor Tan, which meant that he would take responsibility for the businessman.