Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte attended for the first time a Senate probe into the P6.4-billion worth of shabu shipment from China into the Philippines, where he denied “baseless accusations” linking him to smuggling activities.
During a hearing on Thursday, September 7, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV accused Duterte of being a member of Chinese triad, a notorious group engaged in criminal activities, including drug smuggling.
Citing “foreign intelligence information,” the senator claimed that Duterte’s membership in the syndicate can be proven by “colored and a dragon-like figure” tattoo on his back.
Duterte confirmed that he has a tattoo on his back but declined to provide details on what it looks like as he invoked his right to privacy.
The vice mayor stressed that he would not answer any allegations “based on hearsay.”
“The proof of his membership is the tattoo on his back. That is what will explain all this, and there is a competition among syndicates. That is the physical evidence of his membership in the triad. The tattoo,” alleged Trillanes.
According to the senator, the triad tattoo has “secret digits” that can only be decoded by experts.
“If Vice Mayor Duterte is willing, we’ll take a photo of his tattoo and have it sent to the US-DEA [US Drug Enforcement Agency],” Trillanes said.
The senator then repeatedly asked Duterte to show the Senate his tattoo, which the vice mayor again refused, “No way.”
An irked Duterte asked the senator back, “Mr. Chair, how many times do I need to tell you I don’t want to?”
At one point during the hearing, Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, reminded his colleagues to be careful with their allegations.
“The Chair would like to request respectfully that we should not make allegations here without any basis because triad is a very serious allegation and we should not abuse any of the witnesses here,” Gordon said.
“The Chair would like to counsel everyone here to be very careful because everybody has rights here and the Chair intends to ensure that we respect those rights,” he added.
Apart from being a triad member, Trillanes further accused Duterte of having at least two bank accounts containing hundreds of millions of pesos.
The senator accused the vice mayor of having P104.28 million on his alleged accounts with Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) in Davao City.
Duterte repeatedly refused to confirm nor deny owning any accounts in the said accounts. Responding to Trillanes, he asked, “Mr. Chair, do I have to answer this irrelevant question?”
“I refuse to answer anymore,” Duterte added. “This is not part of the inquiry.”
The senator also accused lawyer Manases Carpio, who is married to President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter Sara, of P121 million in his bank accounts—which Carpio denied.
“I invoke the Bank Secrecy law,” a smirking Carpio said, referring to Republic Act No. 1405, which states bank deposits are “absolutely confidential nature and may not be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office” without written permission from the account owner or a court order.
Both Carpio and young Duterte refused Trillanes’ request for them to sign a bank waiver.
“I’m not willing to sign the waiver. I’m not familiar with those figures,” Carpio said.
Duterte also remarked, “I have the same answer. I will not sign the waiver.”