President Duterte has addressed Senator Richard Gordon by his nickname–“Dick”–for the first time in his public briefings since he began to beef with the latter around three weeks ago.
But this wasn’t a term of endearment at all as the Chief Executive led another barb-filled episode of “Talk to the People” on late Monday night, Sept. 20. Gordon was again his main topic.
“The simple fact is the [Senate] Blue Ribbon [Committee] failed to produce anything to prove its accusation of corruption,” Duterte said during the briefing, getting to the root of his conflict with the veteran senator.
Gordon has been leading a panel inquiry on the procurement of alleged overpriced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) supplies by the administration last year.
“Even Dick, the committee chairman, conceded that there is no overpricing, yet he insists on pursuing this,” the President said.
“Until now kasi wala (there is no proof). Your starting point is on the faultline. The inquiry is being done at the expense of dragging government officials and compromising the government’s efforts against COVID-19 at a time when cases are at [an] all-time high and thousands of our people [are] getting sick and dying,” underscored Duterte.
“Ito talaga ang gusto mo Dick mangyari–sirain ang pangalan ko at ng aking administrasyon at guluhin ang COVID-19 response ng gobyerno dahil malapit na ang [eleksyon] (This is what you really want to happen Dick–to destroy my name and my administration and to ruin the government’s COVID-19 response because election is near)…your intentions are clear as a day,” he added.
The President, who had previously described Gordon as a “show-off“, vowed that he would humble the lawmaker.
“Siguraduhin kita na (I will make sure that) I will reduce you to your original size. Eh masyado ka nang lumaki, lumaki na ulo mo (You’ve grown too big, too big in the head). It’s about time na isauli kita sa dati mong pagkatao (that I bring you back to your former self).”
Duterte has been breathing down Gordon’s neck in his quest to have the Commission on Audit (COA) audit the finances of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). Gordon is the longtime chairman of PRC.
The senator has said that COA cannot perform such audit on PRC, which is a private entity. Rejecting this argument, Duterte gave Gordon an ultimatum.
“Kung wala kayong tinatago, bakit kayo matakot? (If you’ve nothing to hide, then why are you afraid?)” Duterte said.