MANILA, Philippines – A charge for conspiracy to commit sedition notwithstanding, the embattled former senator Antonio Trillanes IV continues to investigate allegations by the infamous Bikoy against President Rodrigo Duterte and purported links to the drug trade.
"Yes (I'm still looking into it) and hindi kasi mawawala 'yun dahil may money trail (that information will still be there because there's money trail)," Trillanes said over a Rappler Talk interview on Wednesday, February 19.
Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy alleged in the viral Ang Totoong Narcolist videos that a drug syndicate which has a base in Bicol sent multimillion-peso commissions to people close to Duterte, like the president's son Paolo. Advincula has since retracted this.
Trillanes believes Advincula was only fed the information. While the former senator insists he did not deem Advincula credible enough to be presented to the Senate, he said some of the information showed "probability" which he continues to vet up to now.
"I go back to the original BPI bank accounts that I presented during the campaign. I am suspecting now that the money is drug money, the money that came in to the BPI accounts of Mr Duterte is drug money," said Trillanes.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) would be in the best position to probe into the bank accounts of the Duterte family, but it refused to cooperate in a wealth investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman was forced to terminate the investigation into the Dutertes without prejudice to reopening should more evidence come to light.
"The AMLC in this administration is being used as a tool to block any form of transparency, to cover up the money trail of the Dutertes," said Trillanes.
Trillanes claims that "a lot of bank officials who handle these accounts know about this information."
In Vice President Leni Robredo's report for the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), she said that the AMLC should be given a bigger budget so it can hire additional financial investigators for drug-related cases.
"Once Duterte is out of office, we will have a new AMLC, then we can see all of this information still because it cannot be erased," said Trillanes.
Trillanes said Advincula failed his vetting when the latter could not sketch the Misibis Bay property allegedly used as base for the drug syndicate. Advincula had claimed he worked there as a CCTV operator.
"If you're working as a CCTV operator then gamay na gamay mo every corner of the area, so I asked him to sketch the area, he could not do it, the basic sketch he could not, that's a red flag sa akin so hindi ko sya prinisent," said Trillanes.
(If you're working as a CCTV operator then you should know by heart every corner of the area, so I asked him to sketch the area and he could not do it, the basic sketch he could not, that's a red flag to me so I didn't present him.)
Trillanes added: "'Nung hindi niya na-sketch i believe hindi niya to nakita but I believe napagpasahan siya ng information, so I believe mas importante 'yung information than Bikoy."
(When he could not sketch it, I believe he didn't see it himself but I believe he was passed that information, so I believe the information is more important than Bikoy.)
Trillanes' engagement of Advincula, plus the viral videos, led the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conclude that he was part of a plan to topple the Duterte presidency.
Trillanes said despite the charge, he does not regret talking to Advincula.
"Hindi naman (not really), it's part of the territory as a member of the polticial oppositon. If somebody is presenting then you have to listen, you have the opportunity to vet," said Trillanes.
Trillanes insists he did not conspire to commit sedition, saying he did not attempt to topple the presidency.
His actions and words, he said, are just part of dissent.
Does he think he should be more careful so as not to attract more lawsuits?
"I believe that I'm already very careful because my lawyer keeps on reminding me which can be libelous or not, but if you look at the substance of all the charges against me, walang laman (it's baseless). They'll just try to file it and harass me," said Trillanes. – Rappler.com