Senator alarmed by Philippine candidate's plan on guerrillas

AP News
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Posted: May 03, 2016 9:28 AM
Senator alarmed by Philippine candidate's plan on guerrillas

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine senator expressed alarm Tuesday over a presidential frontrunner's plan to allow communist guerrillas to play a political role in the government if he wins, saying this would cause rumblings within the military.

In his latest controversial remark, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte told reporters his administration would be an all-inclusive one in which communist guerrillas could take part in decision-making. He had earlier expressed openness to a coalition with revolutionary forces but later clarified that an all-inclusive government might be better so as not antagonize the military and police.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a former navy officer, told reporters the military, which has a history of failed coup attempts, could get restive if Duterte wins the presidential race and considers giving political concessions to the rebels.

"There is a faction in the military that is averse to any form of power-sharing with the communists that Duterte is proposing," said the senator, who was among the leaders of a failed mutiny in 2003. "It's going to be very easy to recruit people for such military interventions."

Trillanes, a vice presidential candidate supporting another presidential candidate, earlier alleged that Duterte had about 2.4 billion pesos ($51.1 million) in bank accounts that he did not declare publicly as required by law. He said the mayor "failed in the truth challenge" when he reneged on a promise to open for scrutiny on Monday accounts in one bank branch allegedly containing at least 211 million pesos ($4.5 million).

Lawyer Salvador Panelo, who met with Trillanes at the bank, said Duterte gave him a special power of attorney to ask the bank to turn over records but that the bank asked for seven days to comply. The accounts are held by Duterte jointly with his daughter.

Trillanes said Duterte's lawyer went to the bank "for show and to buy time," carrying a request for bank certification that the accounts did not hold 211 million pesos ($4.5 million) and for the accounts' balance instead of a record of all transactions.

Trillanes said if Duterte wins the May 9 presidential race, he will advocate that Filipinos find "creative ways" to stop him from being sworn into office on June 30.

Duterte's spokesman initially denied last week that the mayor had such a bank account. The mayor, however, acknowledged its existence on Friday but denied that he had committed any wrongdoing, although he did not explain where the money came from.

"I will admit there is money in that account," Duterte told reporters, saying it was less than the 211 million pesos that Trillanes had alleged.

The tough-talking Duterte has led voter preference polls ahead of the May 9 presidential election on a promise to eradicate crime and corruption in the country within six months if he triumphs.

It remains unclear whether the controversy over Duterte's bank accounts will affect his popularity with less than a week to go before the election.