President Rodrigo Duterte and former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has told Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo to take action on former senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s latest plunder allegations against him.

Unfazed by the fresh corruption claim hurled against him, Duterte said Trillanes was just “all talk.”

“I leave Trillanes to you. Ikaw na ang bahala sa kaniya kung anuhin mo. Daldal nang daldal iyan, hindi naman lumaban ng debate ‘yan (It’s up to you what you want to do with him. He’s all talk but could not even fight in a debate),” he told Panelo in a pre-recorded public address aired early Wednesday.

Duterte made the instruction after Panelo slammed Trillanes’ “rehashed” claim that Duterte and his former long-time aide, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, used their influence to corner about PHP6.6 billion worth of government infrastructure projects.

“Patuloy pa rin ang paninira ng taong ito at hindi yata ito titigil hangga’t ito’y… Ewan ko kung anong mangyayari dito, hanggang baka malagnat na lang ‘to sa kaniyang kasinungalingan (He continues to spread lies and it appears that he has no plan to stop until he becomes ill for making up lies),” Panelo said.

Trillanes, in a video uploaded on YouTube, accused Duterte and Go of committing plunder over public works contracts won by construction firms owned by Go’s family in the Davao region.

He said construction companies owned by Go’s family had won government projects worth as much as PHP6.6 billion, specifically PHP1.5 billion when Duterte was still Davao City mayor and PHP5.1 billion in the first two years of his presidency.

Trillanes in 2018 sought a Senate inquiry into the possible conflict of interest in government contracts allegedly awarded to CLTG Builders and Alfrego Builders and Suppliers, firms owned by Go’s father and half-brothers, in the Davao region.

He revived the plunder allegations after Duterte challenged Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao to name and probe government offices accused of being involved in corruption.

Trillanes, Pacquiao ‘want power’

Duterte said Trillanes and Pacquiao are “alike” for having the desire to “hold power.”

“They want to, you know, hold power because they must have… May nakita siguro silang magandang oportunidad para sa kanila (Perhaps, they saw a good opportunity for them),” he said.

Trillanes earlier raised the possibility of him running for president, in case Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo decides not to join the 2022 presidential race.

Pacquiao, who was also reportedly considering seeking the highest post in the country, earned Duterte’s ire after claiming that corruption remains rampant in government.

Pacquiao named the departments of social welfare, health, energy, and environment as allegedly corrupt government offices. (PNA)