President Duterte has welcomed an investigation into allegations that he failed to disclose his wealth when he was mayor of Davao.
The Office of the Ombudsman has initiated an inquiry into activities in several accounts prior to him being elected president.
“The president has nothing to hide,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement today (Wednesday, September 27).
“The president respects the internal processes of the Office of the Ombudsman as an independent body and trusts its impartiality in the conduct of its fact-finding duty.”
Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang said his office had approved a request by anti-corruption investigators to obtain reports from the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
The investigation was in response to a complaint by Senator Antonio Trillanes that Duterte had amassed 2.2 billion pesos in three bank accounts between 2006 and 2015. He also alleged that his failure to declare this wealth broke the law.
The president and Senator Trillanes have clashed frequently. Duterte recently alleged that Trillanes himself had a number of secret overseas bank accounts.
After Duterte read out an account number live on television, Trillanes flew to Singapore to prove that no such account existed.
Duterte then claimed that he had deliberately read out a false number, claiming his lie was a cunning plan to “trick” the senator.
As president, Duterte has immunity from prosecution, but an investigation could provide grounds for impeachment.
However, due to his immense popularity and control of the legislature that would be unlikely.
Duterte has repeatedly said he would resign if there was any proof of wrongdoing on his part.
Duterte wealth investigated
Deputy Ombudsman Carandang declined to provide details of the investigation. However, he confirmed his office had received copies of Duterte’s bank transactions. These, he said, showed more than a billion pesos went through those accounts over several years.
The accusation that Duterte had concealed assets was among a list of allegations contained in an impeachment complaint filed in March by Congressman Gary Alejano.
This was thrown out by lawmakers who found the complaint “lacked substance”.
During his election campaign, Duterte made frequent references to his poor and humble origins.
However, yesterday he admitted that he had wealth from the sale of land inherited from his father, a former governor and cabinet minister under President Marcos.
This was the first time that Duterte had made any public mention of this inheritance.