Duterte’s financial striptease

/ 12:46 PM May 05, 2016

What does presidentiable Rodrigo Duterte’s bank balance tell you? Not much.

Revealing a bank account’s balance only shows the amount inside as of that one second. It cannot prove the account did not contain larger amounts at other times.


You would need to show the entire transaction history (or the promised bank secrecy waiver) to prove this.

Duterte revealed three Bank of the Philippine Islands bank certificates, showing his peso account balance was P17,766.96 on December 31, 2014, P17,816.98 on March 31, 2014 and P74,734.30 on April 29, 2016.


He showed the balance on his passbook, P128,829.64 as of May 3, 2016, allegedly after supporters made deposits.

Finally, he showed a fourth BPI bank certificate showing his dollar account balance was $5,021.70 on March 31, 2014.

The certificates were all issued on May 3, 2016, even for the balances in 2014.

You must be familiar with a bank certificate. For example, you get one when you apply for a visa.

But you get one when you need to show you have money. You might want to convince the US government that you have enough not to go TNT (tago ng tago or become an illegal immigrant).

A bank certificate, however, cannot show that you do not have money. Wrong legal document.

Again, all it shows is the account balance as of that one second.


Remember “The Big Short,” the movie where Christian Bale and Brad Pitt explain the financial crisis? Remember housing loan brokers putting a few thousand dollars into the account of a ninja—a client with no income, no job, no assets—show the balance for the loan application, then withdraw the money?

Showing a bank certificate for that one second is as informative as showing a strategically cropped photo of an election rally to claim there was a huge crowd. You really need the whole, uncropped photo.

For bank records, showing the whole, uncropped photo means showing the whole transaction history.

It can also mean waiving bank secrecy.

Recall that on March 11, Duterte signed a “pledge to open all our bank accounts” and, on April 29, stated that the BPI account contains “a little less than 200 million.”

Does the 2016 election turn on voters’ understanding of basic accounting? The more important question is: Which TV series does it imitate?

To quote the great philosopher Frank Underwood: “The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and casualties.”

Or as Tyrion Lannister said to Jon Snow: “Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”

(React: osca[email protected], Twitter @oscarfbtan, facebook.com/OscarFranklinTan.)


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TAGS: account, Bank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, bank secrecy waiver, BPI, Elections 2016, Rodrigo Duterte
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