President Duterte says he will quit if Philippine senator proves allegations of illegal wealth

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has retained a high popularity rating in the Philippines despite repeated attacks at home and abroad that prompted him to suspend the police's involvement in a drugs war that has killed more than 3,000 people.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has retained a high popularity rating in the Philippines despite repeated attacks at home and abroad that prompted him to suspend the police's involvement in a drugs war that has killed more than 3,000 people.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he's ready to resign if an opponent can prove allegations that he illegally amassed 2 billion pesos (S$56 million).

Senator Antonio Trillanes, who brought a plunder complaint against Mr Duterte during last year's presidential campaign, said the president also failed to disclose 321 million pesos in bank transactions from his common-law wife and daughter.

Mr Trillanes said he got the documents from a "concerned citizen".

"If Trillanes can prove his allegation that I have amassed 2 billion illegally or if that bank account under my name has a total deposit at one time of even just half a billion, I will resign as president immediately," Mr Duterte said in a speech posted on the Presidential Communications Office's Facebook page. He called the allegations "old and rehashed".

Mr Duterte has retained a high popularity rating in the Philippines despite repeated attacks at home and abroad that prompted him to suspend the police's involvement in a drugs war that has killed more than 3,000 people.

Since he enjoys immunity as president, any allegations into illegal wealth and disclosure failures would need to be raised at an impeachment trial in Congress, which is controlled by his allies.

In a statement on Thursday (Feb 16), Mr Trillanes challenged Mr Duterte to open his bank accounts to the public. The senator didn't say what action he would take if Mr Duterte ignored the request.

In his speech late on Thursday, Mr Duterte said his family isn't poor and that his father left him an inheritance. His common-law wife, Honeylet Avancena, went into the doughnut business 18 years ago and supplies meat to five malls in Davao, he said.

His daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, also challenged Mr Trillanes to show where the money was and how it was illegal.

"I will distribute it to the people," she said in a statement, using a mix of English and Filipino. "I never pretended to be what I am not."

Days before the election last May, Mr Trillanes had filed a plunder complaint against Mr Duterte, who was then Davao City mayor. It said the city government spent more than 700 million pesos for the services of so-called ghost employees who didn't render services, ABS-CBN News said on its website. The case was filed before the Ombudsman.

"I have answered this allegation before I became president," Mr Duterte said.

"The people have already spoken, they have placed me in the office with 16 million votes. I would advise Trillanes to go to court and file the proper case against me and advise him further to stop opening his mouth when he has nothing to say anyway."