Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday questioned administration officials whom he alleged are allowing themselves to be used by President Duterte to destroy the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) despite all the assistance the humanitarian organization extended to the government since the COVID-19 pandemic started last year.
At the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee’s investigation, Gordon posed the question to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III after Duterte, in his recent “Talk to the People” hit the PRC and directed the Department of Health (DOH) to investigate the alleged “false positive” results of COVID-19 tests supposedly done by the organization.
“Bakit ho nung kailangan niyo ang Red Cross eh, nandoon kayong lahat? Isang damakmak kayong pumila dun sa Red Cross at sinabi niyo, ‘this is a game changer!’ Di po ba nakatulong ang Red Cross? (Why is it that when you need Red Cross, you are all there? There were many of you who queued up at the Red Cross and kept on saying ‘ this is a game changer.’ Wasn’t Red Cross of any help to you)?” Gordon said during the hearing.
“Marami kayong sulat sa akin na pinupuri niyo ang Red Cross. Bakit ngayon, pumapayag kayong magpagamit ngayon dito sa ating Presidente (Many of you wrote me and kept on praising Red Cross. So now, why are you allowing yourself to be used by the President)?” said Gordon, who concurrently sits as PRC’s chairperson.
Gordon pointed out that the PRC’s original plan was merely to “test whatever we can test” but eventually had to agree to test a lot of people for COVID-19 upon the request of the government.
“Isn’t it a fact that you came to the Red Cross to ask us to test because we were not going to test the whole country? We were just going to test whatever we can test,” he explained.
The senator pointed out that now the PRC COVID-19 tests has reached almost 4.4 million.
In his reply, Duque acknowledged PRC indeed has been testing the most number of COVID-19 patients in the private sector, second to the government.
Gordon also took potshots at Sagip Party-list Representative Rodante Marcoleta who earlier claimed that his office has received reports that some health care workers that were allegedly tested by the PRC got false-positive results.
Marcoleta, during a House probe, disclosed the health workers complained that after a retest, only four of 44 health workers were found positive for COVID.
“Ngayon eh pinaiimbestiga niyo ‘yong Subic lab (laboratory) dahil ‘yong kahol ng kahol na si Marcoleta na kunyari kinumpare ako. Akala niya siguro magpe-presidente ako, gagamitin niyo ako (You are now investigating our laboratory in Subic because this Marcoleta is barking non-stop, and he even tried to befriend me. Maybe he thought I am gunning for the presidency, so you want to use me?)” Gordon stressed.
“Eh ngayon minumura kami ni Marcoleta, hindi ko na dapat pansinin yan. ‘Yan ang demolition expert sa ABS-CBN (Now Marcoleta is badmouthing me. I should ignore him then. He’s the demolition expert on the ABS-CBN franchise), ” he added.
Gordon told Duque the PRC is open to investigation on the allegations that are now being hurled against them by the Duterte administration, saying they have always submitted test results to DOH and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
Duterte’s criticisms against Gordon came after the Senate blue ribbon committee, which the senator chairs, zeroed in on the P8.6-billion deal between the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS) to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. which bagged the COVID-19 supplies contract despite only having P625,000.
The Senate probe dug deeper after some of the resource persons tagged Duterte’s former presidential economic adviser, Michael Yang, as the one who gave funds to Pharmally so it can secure the contract.
Duterte has since defended Yang from Senate probers. Yang has been cited in contempt and has been ordered arrested by the Senate for being evasive in answering senators questions.