Malacañang on Monday challenged online news organization Vera Files to prove its report that President Rodrigo Duterte received cash gifts worth millions when he was still mayor of Davao City.
A Vera Files article authored by Ellen Tordesillas said Duterte received P193.7 million in deposits on his 69th birthday in March 2014.
The figure was based on documents submitted to the Senate by staunch Duterte critic and former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
“Is that true? Does she have any evidence to that effect? Ang dami nang nagsabi na, si Presidente, ilang daang milyon mayroon siya. Pero hindi naman totoo,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a news conference.
“Sabi nga, one who alleges must prove. If you cannot prove, eh huwag ka na lang magsalita kasi naninira ka lang.”
Panelo went on to flat out deny that the President received gifts in his personal capacity.
“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,” the Palace spokesman explained.
In a a short statement, Tordesillas pointed out that the President did not deny the information cited in her column when it was first exposed in 2016.
Additionally, Duterte even confirmed the story with the admission about having "mayaman na mga kaibigan."
"Secretary Panelo should take time to read my column carefully. Everything is there," wrote Tordesillas.
Duterte earlier said that he found nothing wrong with policemen accepting gifts from generous and thankful persons, which could be interpreted to mean that there was nothing wrong with quid pro quo arrangements
Panelo however clarified that Duterte was referring to "unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value." The Palace official argued that this was allowed under the law. — DVM, GMA News