Duterte warns anti-money laundering council, central bank over confrontation
President Rodrigo Duterte warned on Monday the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) not to make it difficult for the government to check into the bank accounts of suspected drug lords.
"I'd like to address myself to the central bank guys and the AMLC. You know, I'd like to warn you, to avoid confrontation between us, central bank people," Duterte said in a speech during the 80th anniversary of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Duterte said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II told him it was hard to deal with the AMLC.
Aguirre has been asking AMLC for assistance regarding bank transactions of some personalities allegedly involved in illegal drug trade.
"The Secretary of Justice now says that you are hard to deal with. You better go to the Secretary of Justice or I will go to you. I will call for you and you have to answer so many questions to me. You choose, either we cooperate in this government as a Republic to protect and preserve our people or do not make it hard for us, otherwise, I will make it hard for you," Duterte stressed.
Duterte recalled when Senator Antonio Trillanes IV accused him of having a bank account with P211 million deposit during the presidential campaign, AMLC did not conduct an investigation.
"I was just curious, if I had that money, why did you not initiate an investigation. For I really have none. So you cannot tell the public because you are protecting somebody, those who are really into money laundering," Duterte said, noting the AMLC should have told the public how much was his worth.
Duterte bared there was "a guy" who put up "not really a fake corporation but a set-up just to launder" money, which amounted to about P5.1 billion.
He indicated the guy was into illegal drugs and the government is "digging into the records of the case." Duterte did not say who the person was.
In the same speech, Duterte apparently blamed former President Benigno Aquino III why illegal drugs spread.
"Maybe he (Aquino) did not realize the gravity of the situation because he simply did not know or never attempted to know how, how much was the scale, the dimension of three million (drug addicts)," Duterte said.
Citing previous report of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Duterte has said there were an estimated three million drug addicts. He sees the number of drug addicts could even hit four million.
Duterte reiterated he believes in the story of the members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group that the death of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., a suspected drug lord, was a shoot-out and not a rub-out.
"Now in Leyte, they said that there was a rub-out and the police they have a shoot out. I said, I believe the police. Why? Because they are my subordinates. The story of the people whom I give the orders to operate is what I order them to do," he added.
If there is somebody who would go to jail, Duterte said it would be him as he would assume "full, legal responsibility." Duterte has declared an all-out war against illegal drugs. Celerina Monte/DMS