Panelo sees no strong evidence to pin down Du30 on hidden wealth charges but warns Ombudsman vs releasing probe info

September 28, 2017 - 10:32 PM
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Philstar file photo of presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo

MANILA, Philippines — While Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV feels vindicated by the Ombudsman’s confirmation that the documents he had attached to his plunder complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte were roughly similar to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC)’s records, the chief executive’s legal adviser thinks there is yet no strong evidence to prove that the country’s highest leader has hidden wealth.

“It should be noted that alleged bank records, assuming they are correct, don’t necessarily indicate that he (Duterte) is hiding money in the amount of P1 billion, or the same is ill-gotten,” Salvador Panelo said Thursday.

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 by Trillanes in May 2016.

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.

The ombudsman also said that based on documents from the AMLC, Duterte and his family’s bank transactions through the years amounted to over P1 billion.

But Panelo on Thursday said the alleged amount “was based on in-and-out bank transactions of the President’s family through the years; hence, does not sufficiently prove he accumulated money in the total of P1 billion at any given time.”

“At any rate, the President is not bothered by the baseless assertions of Senator Trillanes concerning the alleged bank records. The President is already used to persistent tirades of his detractors, most especially Senator Trillanes,” added Panelo.

Don’t disclose investigatory records, otherwise…

Nonetheless, Panelo cautioned the Ombudsman’s office against revealing information based on its investigation while judicial proceedings are still in progress as stated in Section 3(f) of the rules implementing Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

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

“Lest ODO Carandang forget, violations of the foregoing provision may subject the offender to administrative sanctions,” added Panelo.

Trillanes feels vindicated

Meanwhile, Trillanes said he felt vindicated that the ombudsman had confirmed that his allegations against Duterte were true.

Babasagin nito ang mga pagkukunwari ni Duterte na siya daw ay galing sa mahirap at sinasabi na wala raw siyang ganito kalaking pera sa bangko. So dito natin makikita na pinagloloko niya mga kababayan natin up to this day,” the senator said on Thursday.

[This will shatter Duterte’s pretense that he came from a poor family and he doesn’t have such huge amount of money in the bank. So this is where we will see that he is fooling our countrymen up to this day.]

Trillanes said that while the President is immune from suit and thus could not be slapped with charges before the Sandiganbayan and other courts, Duterte isn’t immune from investigation and results of the ombudsman’s preliminary investigation could be made as basis to file an impeachment complaint against him.

“May immunity from suit ang Pangulo, pero walang immunity from investigations. So dito, after preliminary investigation, pag nag-conclude, hindi ito maisasampa sa korte o Sandiganbayan, pero p’wedeng gamitin ito as basis ng impeachment complaint.”