​Advice to Panelo: Read before you speak

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Malacañang photo.

Had Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo read my column last Monday on President Duterte receiving cash gifts in millions of pesos on the 69th birthday, he should not have denied what the President has admitted a long time ago.

In his press briefing Aug. 19, ABS-CBN’s Pia Gutierrez asked for his comment on my column titled “Duterte gets gifts in multi-million pesos.”

I wrote that “On his 69th birthday, on March 28, 2014, seven deposits totalling P193,705,615.88 were credited to the joint account of then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his daughter Sara Z. Duterte in BPI, Julia Vargas branch in Ortigas Center. The first was in the amount of P55,131,747.32, followed by P41,721,035.62. Then four deposits in the amount of P20,000,000.00 each came in. The last deposit for the day was in the amount of P16,852,832.94.”

This was based on the documents obtained by VERA Files from the Senate Record where former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV submitted the copies of bank records of transactions in the Duterte father and daughter joint account. These are the same documents that were submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman when Trillanes filed a plunder case against Duterte.

Panelo said “Is that true? Does she have any evidence to that effect? Ang dami nang nagsabi na si Presidente ang daming … hindi ba, ilang daang milyon mayroon siya pero hindi naman totoo.”

Gutierrez asked if he was denying what I wrote.

Panelo replied: “Sabi nga, one who alleges must prove. If you cannot prove, eh huwag ka nalang magsalita kasi naninira ka lang.”

Gutierrez asked further: “Si President Duterte, sir, what is his policy on receiving gifts? Nominal din—“

I imagine that Gutierrez’s question was related to the advice of Duterte to the policemen to accept gifts given to them by people who are grateful to them for solving crimes. “Well, basta kung bigyan kayo, eh tanggapin ninyo. (If you are given, you accept it.) It is not bribery because — it cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law. What I mean if there is generosity in them, sabi ng anti-graft you cannot accept gifts. Kalokohan ‘yan. (The anti-graft [law] says you cannot accept gifts. That’s bullshit.)”

Panelo’s reply: “Ang alam ko, kapag mayroong nagreregalo sa kaniya, pinapadiretso niya sa Office of the President. In other words, it will be the government of the Philippines that will receive the gift; hindi siya, hindi personal. Hindi siya tumatanggap ng personal.”

For Panelo’s enlightenment, Duterte didn’t deny those huge deposits on his birthday. The then Davao City mayor said, “Ibig sabihin niyan marami akong kaibigan na mayaman.”

Asked if the money were gifts, he replied,”Alangan naman na hinold-up ko?” He added that he had already spent the money.

I suggest for Panelo to click on these links: