Trillanes sues Duterte for plunder, warns of coup

Posted on May 06, 2016

CONTINUING his exposés against Rodrigo R. Duterte, Senator and vice-presidential candidate Antonio F. Trillanes IV on Thursday filed plunder and other charges at the Office of the Ombudsman against the Davao City Mayor and front-runner in the presidential race.

Presidential front-runner Rodrigo R. Duterte campaigning in Malabon -- Reuters
Among the charges filed by Mr. Trillanes are malversation, violation of Section 3 (g) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, plunder, money laundering, and violation of Section 7 (d) of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

The last accusation pertains to Mr. Duterte’s admission that he had been gifted with properties and other assets by televangelist Apollo C. Quiboloy.

Mr. Trillanes has accused Mr. Duterte of having undeclared deposits of up to P2.4 billion.

In his complaint-affidavit, Mr. Trillanes reiterated his earlier allegations against the Davao City Mayor and also accused him of hiring 11,000 contractual employees in 2014 alone -- an “anomalous practice” that has been “going on for years, if not decades,” during the incumbency of his daughter, Sara, and his own incumbency in 1998-1992, 1992-1995, 1995-1998, 2001-2010, and 2013 to the present.

The 2014 appointments alone cost the coffers of Davao City some P708 million, the complaint-affidavit said, as it also cited a Commission on Audit report noting that Davao City “has no written policy or manual on the hiring of employees particularly under contract of services and job orders.... These conditions cast doubt that entries in the daily time record of these employees... are manipulated, thus regularity and validity of the related expenditures could not be ascertained.”

Of his exposés since last week, Mr. Trillanes said in a radio interview that “at the very least,” his accusations will show that Mr. Duterte has been “pretending to live a simple life.”

Mr. Duterte is running on the campaign platform of fighting criminality and corruption.

In an interview with ANC also on Thursday, Mr. Trillanes said his “campaign [is] about unmasking a fraud.”

“Duterte’s presidency would be detrimental to the country because he is a fraud,” the senator told the network, adding that he was just “doing my job” as senator and “it’s up to the people.”

In response, the Duterte camp issued a statement criticizing Mr. Trillanes for his “ghost accusations.”

“It appears that Senator Trillanes now only wants to throw allegations left and right so he will still be in the public eye since he is the perennial cellar-dweller in all surveys. We are not bothered by the scurrilous allegations of Senator Trillanes who is a vicious attack dog unleashed by Malacañang to derail Mayor Duterte’s presidential bid,” PDP-Laban spokesperson Paola Alvarez said.

“Why is it that your driver and household help are in the list of your Senate consultants?,” she also asked.

A text message from the Duterte camp also noted that then Interior secretary Manuel A. Roxas II awarded Davao City last year the Seal of Good Governance.

“This means the LGU went into evaluation. That award is a positive affirmation compared with trumped-up charges. Trillanes only wants fancy attention, that is why these piecemeal releases that tickle the media but not the people fed up with trapos [traditional politicians],” the message went.

In another forum early this week, Mr. Trillanes -- himself a detained putschist during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency -- also warned of the possibility of a military coup in the event of a Duterte presidency, especially if Mr. Duterte declares a revolutionary government as he has threatened in the course of the campaign.

“The moment he tries to declare a revolutionary government, that is also going to be the day he will be removed from office,” Mr. Trillanes, a former Navy officer famous for leading failed military uprisings in 2003 and 2007, told AFP.

“This guy has no respect for democratic institutions.”

In a forum of foreign correspondents, Mr. Trillanes said some in the military were “strongly averse” to Mr. Duterte’s long-standing ties with communists, and that a coup was “very likely.”

Davao had been one of the communist hot spots, and it is commonly understood that Mr. Duterte contained the violence there by forging ties with the rebels.

President Benigno S. C. Aquino III has been outspoken in his criticism of Mr. Duterte, calling him a threat to the democratic gains of the post-Marcos dictatorship era.

But Mr. Duterte is running under the banner of the PDP-Laban, the anti-Marcos party co-founded by Mr. Aquino’s father, assassinated senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.

Ashley Acedillo, another coup plotter-turned-lawmaker, told AFP that a “military intervention” was likely under a Duterte presidency.

“The armed forces will stand true to its constitutional duty to protect the people and the state,” he said.

The ex-coup plotter’s warnings are not bluster, according to Manila-based security analyst Rommel Banlaoi.

“We will face a Duterte government that is very unstable,” Mr. Banlaoi told AFP. -- James Glenn M. Gomez and AFP