Former Philippine President Duterte, aide face criminal complaints over multi-million-dollar projects

Ex-Duterte aide denies allegations, welcomes charges to “end recycled issues.”
Camille Elemia
Former Philippine President Duterte, aide face criminal complaints over multi-million-dollar projects Former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV shows documents to reporters after filing plunder charges against ex-President Rodrigo Duterte and his aide, now senator, Christopher “Bong” Go, in Manila, July 5, 2024.
Joeal Calupitan/AP

Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is facing plunder and graft complaints alleging that multi-million dollar infrastructure projects were granted during his presidency to unqualified firms linked to his right-hand man.

Antonio Trillanes IV, a former senator and fierce critic of Duterte, filed the criminal complaints on Friday at the Department of Justice in Manila. Also named are Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Duterte’s former aide; Go’s father, Deciderio Lim Go; and Go's half-brother, Alfredo Armero Go.

The complaints stem from a 2018 report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) alleging that companies owned by Go’s relatives received multi billion-peso government contracts in Davao City from 2017 to 2018 when Duterte was president. At the time, Go served as special assistant to the president and head of staff. 

“All the elements of plunder are clearly present in this case. Mr. Bong Go, in conspiracy with Mr. Duterte, used his position, authority, and influence to corner billions worth of government projects in favor of his father and brother, thus unduly enriching himself and the members of his immediate family,” Trillanes told reporters.

Under Philippine law, plunder occurs when a government official amasses wealth of at least 50 million pesos (U.S. $853,140) through corrupt means with help from relatives or associates. It carries a life sentence.

Duterte did not immediately reply to BenarNews’ request for comment, but Go rejected the allegations and said he welcomed the charges to “put an end to these often-recycled issues against us.”

“I categorically deny the allegations against me and former President Rodrigo Duterte,” he said.

Trillanes said that from 2017 to 2018, at least P6.6 billion ($112.66 million) worth of government contracts were awarded to CLTG Builders and Alfrego Builders & Supply, allegedly owned by Lim Go and Armero Go, respectively.

Trillanes claims CLTG and Alfrego were not qualified for such large projects.

“Duterte and Go awarded and/or caused the award of billions upon billions of public works contracts to sole proprietorships which were obviously owned and managed by the father and brother of Go…. despite the fact that the said sole proprietorship are clearly not qualified to bid for and be awarded the subject public works contracts,” Trillanes said in his 30-page complaint.

Duterte and Go were “the main plunderers” while Go’s father and half-brother were “co-conspirators,” Trillanes said.

As president, Duterte had immunity from prosecution and could not be charged in court. Duterte’s six-year term ended in 2022. He was replaced by Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in a political alliance that has recently crumbled

Duterte and Go

Before becoming president in 2016, Duterte served as mayor and vice mayor of Davao City for more than two decades. He also represented a district of Davao city in the Philippine Congress.

Go’s ties to Duterte started when he became executive assistant to the former leader in 1998. Go, who described himself as the former president’s “most trusted aide,” served Duterte until becoming a senator in May 2019.

Like Duterte, Go and his family’s hometown is Davao City.

Former Philippine presidents have frequently been accused of corruption. 

Joseph Estrada was removed from office by a military-backed popular revolt three years into his term in 2001 over accusations of incompetence and large-scale corruption. He was later pardoned and ran for president in 2010 but lost. He served as mayor of Manila twice until 2019. 

After Estrada was removed, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo served the remainder of his term. In 2004, Arroyo was elected president, a post she held until 2010. While subsequently serving in Congress, she was detained for alleged corruption during her presidency. The Supreme Court cleared her of all charges in 2016.  

Duterte faces separate charges before the International Criminal Court for thousands of deaths in his war on drugs during his presidency.

Jeoffrey Maitem contributed to this report from Davao City, southern Philippines.


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Elvira Zambrana
Jul 12, 2024 08:04 AM

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