Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, on Friday, September 3 said that the order of President Duterte to his Cabinet and the military not to go to the Senate and attend public hearings constitutes ‘’inciting to sedition.’’
Gordon, CEO and chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), also said President Duterte’s challenge to the veracity of a Commission on Audit (COA), a constitutional office, on the faulty handling by various departments, particularly the Department of Health (DOH), of billions of pesos in people’s money, violates the separation of power.
During a question and answer (Q&A) phase after his speech before the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Gordon said the President’s ‘’seditious’’ actions stemmed from his statements telling members of the Cabinet and other persons and the military that they should not to go listen to the Senate and not to go to the Senate investigations.
Gordon lamented that the President’s actions are a bad signal to foreign investors ‘’because the rule of law is compromised.’’
The current feud between the President and several senators all started when President Duterte questioned a COA report on the questionable remittance by DOH of its P42 billion COVID-19 response funds for the purchase of COVID 19-related medical supplies.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said the bid awards to ‘’choice’’ bidders indicates syndicated plunder.
A Malacanang appointee, Lloyd Christopher Lao, resigned Procurement Service of Department of Budget and Management (DBM), is now at the vortex of the ‘’scandal.’’
Gordon, who presided over the public hearing on the ‘’questionable’’ PS-DBM bid awards, complained that Lao, a Davao lawyer, was evasive during the committee grilling.
He said the President’s actions indicate lack of vision and plans for the country which is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
` On the allegation of President Duterte that he is using the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to fuel his political ambitions, Gordon said this is a tactic to divert public attention to the plunder that had taken place at PS-DBM.
He said he has not even announced whether he would be running for the Senate, the presidency or for a mayoral post.
Gordon cited an observation of Senator Panfilo M. Lacson that the President is now on a ‘’panic mode.’’
He said the President is mistaken because he has not made any announcement regarding his political plans ‘’yet I’m tainted.’’
‘’it’s an honor to be attacked. I have nothing to hide,’ he said, adding that the President should not wage war against him so that they both could focus on fighting the country’s problems, including funds to contain the pandemic.
The President, according to Gordon, should give ‘’ayuda’’ (financial assistance) and vaccines to the people.
‘’Have your people answer.... where is the money?’’ he told the President as officers of the bid winning companies can no longer be located by Senate subpoena servers.
‘’I’m here to protect the Filipino people,’’ he added.
Instead of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III being ‘’held hostage by his superiors,’’ Gordon said Duque should be backed up.
Gordon admitted that he is very concerned by these turn of events even as the PCCI finds ‘’disturbing’’ that the integrity in the procurement of medical supplies is being questioned.