Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is ready to quit his position if any opponent can prove allegations of his millions of dollars of hidden assets. The Filipino leader has recently found himself in a thick soup after an opposition senator accuses him of stashing millions of dollars.
"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," Duterte said in a speech that was posted on the Presidential Communications Office's Facebook page. The 71-year-old president called the allegations "old and rehashed".
In a statement on Thursday, Senator Antonio Trillanes, one of only a few politicians who regularly challenge the popular president, released copies of what he said were bank statements from 2006 to 2015, totaling 2.4 billion pesos (S$56 million approx) in numerous accounts, that he said belong to Duterte and which he had failed to declare before his election last May.
Trillanes challenged Duterte and asked him to open his bank accounts to the public. However, the senator did not mention what action he would take if the president ignored the request.
"I know he will not release and he will not accept my challenge because it will be proven that he is really a corrupt official," Trillanes told Al Jazeera. When asked about the documents, Trillanes said he got the documents from a "concerned citizen".
Ever since Duterte has come to the power he has been criticized by the human rights group for his drug war that has killed more than 3,000 people. But despite all this, Duterte has retained a high popularity rating in the Philippines.
Since Duterte 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 his speech late on Thursday, Duterte said his family is not poor and that his father left him an inheritance. He added that his common-law wife, Honeylet Avancena, went into the doughnut business 18 years ago and supplies meat to five malls in Davao. Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, has also challenged Trillanes to show where the money was and how it was illegal. "I will distribute it to the people," Sara said in a statement, using a mix of English and Filipino. "I never pretended to be what I am not," she added.
ABS-CBN News said on its website that Trillanes had filed a plunder complaint against Duterte days ahead of the last May election. The report claims that the city government spent more than 700 million pesos for the services of so-called ghost employees who didn't render services. In response to that, Duterte said: "I have answered this allegation before I became president."
"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," he added.