Trillanes, Sotto clash over inviting Paolo Duterte, Mans Carpio to smuggling probe
Tension filled the plenary session hall after Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV openly criticized Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III for allegedly “lawyering” for presidential son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and presidential son-in-law Atty. Manases “Mans” Duterte by blocking the issuance of an invitation by the Senate blue ribbon committee.
This is in relation to their alleged involvement in the Davao Group, said to be highly influential in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and in purported big-time smuggling activities in the country.
“Mr. chairman hindi ako nag aabogado. I’m just saying, at saka sinabi ko, if you overheard me, ang sinabi ko pag-aralan muna ng committee sapagkat hearsay eh. It doesn’t mean na huwag. Huwag mo akong pagbibintangan,” Sotto retorted to Trillanes.
At the onset, following the resumption of the committee hearing on the P6.4-billion smuggled shabu from China, Trillanes established how customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba II was able to supposedly penetrate the Davao Group.
Taguba told the committee that he was led to the group by a certain Tita Nanie and Jojo Bacud and had him introduce to the alleged “handlers” of Vice Mayor Duterte, alleged to be called by the group as “Pulong.”
He identified the alleged handlers as a certain Jack and Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera.
And in his text exchanges with Tita Nani, Taguba made mention of “Mans” and “P” and when asked by Trillanes, he unmasked them as supposedly the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and the vice mayor, respectively.
“At this point, Mr. Chairman, I believe we have enough information that would warrant the invitation for both Atty. Mans Carpio and Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte to this committee hearing. I heard the majority leader say that it’s hearsay. Hindi ito korte huh. This is an investigative body, we’re just establishing the truth. We’re ferreting out the truth. Let them defend themselves. Wag muna tayo mag abogado sa kanila,” Trillanes said.
Trillnes then complained that while some of those he requested to be invited were called to appear by the panel, the same does not seem to be possible for Carpio and Vice Mayor Paolo.
“Unless sacred cows ang treatment ng committee na ito sa kanila. These people were mentioned. I’m just asking that these people be invited Mr. Chairman. I believe it’s fair, they also have the chance to clear their names kasi na mention sila talaga dito eh,” he said.
But before Trillanes could turn it into a motion, Sotto intervened and interrogated Taguba to ascertain whether indeed there’s basis to call for the said family members of President Duterte.
Trillanes was able to manifest his request to invite them after the committee chair, Sen. Richard Gordon, himself asked that some of those alleged to be working for the Davao Group be invited to the hearing.
“I move that the commitee invite Atty. Mans Carpio and Paolo Duterte,” Trillanes said.
“You may do so,” said Gordon.