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Top lawyer who kept Duterte’s BPI account details secret gets new job as his lead counsel for canvassing

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The highly-paid lawyer who successfully fended off Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s attempt to open select accounts of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) has been tapped to represent the presumptive President-elect when Congress convenes in joint session to sit as the National Board of Canvassers.

In a letter dated May 9 and addressed to Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Duterte said Salvador Panelo will be his principal counsel at the canvassing of votes for the presidential race.

The presumptive President-elect said he has authorized Panelo, who is representing the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) political party, to determine the number of assisting counsel he might need for the canvassing period.

The party formed by former Senate President Edgardo Angara had adopted Duterte as its presidential candidate.

According to reports, Panelo allegedly received a P20-million fee to ensure that details of Duterte’s BPI accounts, which Trillanes claimed contained some P211 million in deposits, would be kept under wraps until after the May 9 elections.

The lawyer is part of Duterte’s transition team as his personal spokesman and representative.