Senator threatens to sue over ‘fake news’
SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV said Monday he will file libel cases against Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, journalist Erwin Tulfo, and the person behind the Davao Breaking News Facebook page, declaring that the “era of fake news is over.”
“Within the next few days, I will file a case against Erwin Tulfo, Mocha Uson and Ben Tesiorna,” Trillanes said in Filipino during a press briefing.
“I will sue them for libel. Fake news will no longer be tolerated. The era of fake news is over. This Duterte administration, you won the election on fake news, but now, you can’t do that. I will chase you down every time.”
Tesiorna is said to be behind the Davao Breaking News Facebook page, which published Trillanes’ alleged offshore bank accounts. Tulfo and Uson shared these on their pages, Trillanes said.
Trillanes said he found that not only were the bank accounts bogus, but so were the banks.
“These are not just non-existent accounts, but non-existent banks,” he said. “That’s how glaring this fabrication is.”
“This shows you what a liar Duterte is, using the power of the government to destroy a member of the opposition,” the senator said.
At the same briefing, Trillanes showed copies of the 12 waivers he submitted to the Anti-Money Laundering Council covering his alleged 12 accounts.
He said Duterte should also execute a document waiving his bank secrecy rights if he is not hiding anything.
“Now, I’ll throw the challenge to Duterte. You made allegations against me, I signed waivers. I accused you of having unexplained wealth more than a year ago, but you kept changing the topic,” Trillanes said.
Towards the end of the campaign in 2016, Trillanes, who ran unsuccessfully for vice president, accused Duterte of having unexplained wealth stashed in various bank accounts. He then challenged Duterte to sign bank waivers in order to open his accounts to the public and prove him wrong.
But Duterte refused and merely gave a verbal order to the AMLC to look into his accounts..
“You can’t just be all talk, you have to sign a waiver. If you’re brave, if you’re not corrupt, then sign a waiver like I did, addressed to the AMLC and Ombudsman,” said Trillanes in a news conference.
“But I know you won’t do that because you’re afraid of the truth. I know you’re corrupt, just like your family,” he added.
Trillanes said he is willing to accompany the Ombudsman and journalists to some of the actual banks mentioned to prove that he is not hiding anything.
He also said at least three members of his upper class at the Philippine Military Academy are behind the operations to smear him with fake bank accounts, but he declined to name them.
The Palace said Monday that Duterte has the goods on Trillanes, but clarified that the President only meant he will “destroy” the accusations against him and his family, and not the senator.
In a Palace news briefing, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President will come up with something “substantial” to link Trillanes to the allegations.
Abella said the President only wanted to stop the senator’s “sheer reckless accusations” against him, when asked to clarify Duterte’s “destroy” remark last week.
“You know the President is… a very firm, forceful speaker. And he simply means to say that he wants to put a stop to these apparently wanton comments,” he said.
On Saturday night, Duterte vowed to expose Trillanes’ alleged offshore bank accounts in his apparent retaliation against the latter for smearing on his and his son’s reputation.
Duterte also said the former mutineer had more than 200 consultants all financed through the questionable Disbursement Acceleration Program, found illegal by the Supreme Court in 2014 for improper use of savings and inter-branch transfer of appropriations