MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday accused the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte of “rampant corruption” following the recent removal of two senior officials for alleged irregularities in their respective departments.
Trillanes, speaking at a forum at the Senate, said that corruption was rife in the Duterte administration despite its claims to the contrary, claiming that they have been monitoring several senior government figures engaged in questionable activities.
“What I’m saying is rampant ang corruption ngayon. We have been identifying senior officials of this administration na engaged in corruption na hindi naman ginagalaw,” said the senator, a very vocal and fierce critic of the president.
Trillanes said the administration’s anti-corruption stance was superficial, saying that Duterte just fired officials for political convenience.
The senator cited the case of former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno who was fired by Duterte for “loss of trust and confidence.”
He said that Sueno was fired from his post because it was convenient for the administration. This was shown by the very careful statements from Malacañang, which, he said, did not want to pin the official down too much because he might speak against them.
Trillanes said that if the administration is serious in its anti-corruption effort, it should have not just fired Sueno but also charged him for corruption.
“Yun na nga e. Dapat kung meron ka talagang anything solid, hindi mo lang i-file. Kakasuhan mo papakita mo na message ito kung gaano ka ka-serious,” he said.
The senator also said that he would not be surprised if there were more senior government officials who would be fired in the future.
“Basta’t maraming mga opisyales ng administrasyon na ito na grabe ang korapsyon. Naka ano yan tinitingnan naming, dinodocument naming whenever possible,” he said.
Duterte let go of long-time ally Peter Laviña as National Irrigation Administration chief last month over reports of corruption. He said last month that he had fired 92 government officials from different agencies for graft and corruption.
It is unclear if the government filed graft cases against those officials.
Trillanes: Duterte himself corrupt
Trillanes said that Duterte himself was corrupt after it was alleged that he had P200 million in hidden wealth in his bank account. This he said made Duterte not the right person to rid government agencies of graft and corruption.
The senator challenged the president: “Dapat ikaw rin mismo wala ka ring anomalya, wala ka ring skeletons in the closet as regards corruption. Kasi meron siyang plunder case, meron report na mismo ng COA ito, yung bank transactions niya na hanggang ngayon hindi niya hinaharap e diba? Ilang buwan na yung nakalipas. Kung gigil na gigil ka sa akin. You can get rid of me. Prove me wrong tanggal ako sa puwesto. Kaso nga hindi niya maharap yun kasi alam niyang totoo yun.”
Trillanes also defended television station ABS-CBN and broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer after the president’s diatribe against them, saying that the president was afraid because once his accounts became subjects of litigation they would be exempted from the Bank Secrecy Law.
“Binabash pa niya yung ABS-CBN at Inquirer dahil nire-report yun. Eh kung mali yun, libel ang remedy mo. He can sue me for libel. Bakit hindi niya ako sinusue? Dahil alam niya na once naging subject ng litigation yung bank accounts magiging exempted ito sa Bank Secrecy Law,” he said.