Duterte: Senate processes look cheap now
President Rodrigo Duterte has said that the Senate inquiry "looks cheap now."
The President made his remarks after Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, his staunch critic, accused his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law, Manases Carpio, of being behind the "Davao Group" allegedly involved in the corruption activities inside the Bureau of Customs.
"So why bother asking a lawyer and asking a plain citizen, or Vice Mayor for that matter, if you are already assuming publicly that they are behind Davao group? Who else would want to answer you?" Duterte said in a media interview during Congressman Karlo Alexie Nograles' birthday celebration in Davao City on Saturday night.
Trillanes wanted to summon Paolo and Carpio in the Senate investigation to shed light on the alleged corruption at the BOC.
Duterte said if the senator just wanted to harass or fish information from those people who will be summoned, "the processes of the Senate has been degraded, it looks cheap now.
"So henceforth, the Senate can't get anyone. I said because they have cheapened the image of the Senate as an oppressor-- but not all," he added.
While he advised his son to attend the Senate hearing, he said he told Paolo to invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination, particularly if the questions would come from Trillanes.
"Go there (Senate), then when you arrived and he (Trillanes) asked you questions, just tell him: I will not answer you, I'm invoking my right of silence because since election, when my father was not yet the president, you're already attacking us," he said.
He also told the public not to be afraid if being threatened with contempt when attending the Senate hearings.
"If you are called in the Senate, ask help from me as President, I will help. I will send lawyers. I have to say that I represent the person cited to appear, and my answer to him is shut up," he said.
Duterte also called Trillanes a "political ISIS".
"But they persist because either they’re dedicated to their ignorance or… he's (Trillanes) a, political ISIS. He doesn't have a talent. He will not… he does not even know between a democrat and a member of a party. How can I expect --- because he lacks. Actually what he knows about life is lacking," he said.
"So if you want evidence, do not get it from the mouth of other people. Go somewhere else.. You are not a lawyer, you don't know that," he added.
Meanwhile, Trillanes said he will not stoop down on the President's level of name-calling.
"The bottom line is this, his son and son-in-law were named as the masterminds behind the Davao Group and are being suspected of being involved in smuggling operations that led to the express entry of the 6.4 billion peso shabu shipment into the country. Those are not my allegations but information extracted from Sen. (Richard) Gordon's witnesses during the hearings," Trillanes said in a statement.
Gordon is the chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee investigating the entry into the country of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China and other alleged corruption in BOC.
Trillanes also recalled Paolo Duterte's alleged involvement in smuggling in Davao City in 2007 as well as the claims made by Edgar Matobato and retired policeman Arturo Lasca?as on his dealings in BOC and helping a certain Charlie Tan in drug smuggling.
Matobato and Lasca?as were self-confessed killers whom Duterte allegedly recruited in the alleged Davao Death Squad when he was still mayor of the city.
"President Duterte is now panicking because his family's illegal activities are close to being exposed. No wonder they have billions of money in the bank," he added.
Duterte has been denying Trillanes' allegation that he has huge amount of money in the banks. Ella Dionisio/DMS