'I wouldn't be president if I were corrupt like you,' Duterte tells senators

"I wouldn't be President Duterte if I were corrupt like you."

President Rodrigo Duterte listens to the presentation of his Cabinet members during the "Talk to the People" public briefing on Nov. 2, 2021 (Malacañang photo)

This was the Chief Executive's comeback on Wednesday, Nov. 3 , against Senator Richard Gordon and the rest of the senators who have continued to hold hearings via the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the alleged anomalies in the administration’s procurement of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) supplies in 2020.

Speaking in his pre-recorded "Talk to the People" public briefing, Duterte took exception to the claims of certain senators that he has been "lawyering" for officials of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which served as a major contractor in the government's procurement activities last year.

"Wag po kayong magpadala dyan sa mga intriga na ako raw abugado, ako raw ano...Alam mo sa totoo lang Gordon, pati Drilon, hindi ako aabot sa presidency, from my mayorship to the presidency, kung corrupt ako kagaya ninyo...Kung tumatanggap ako ng mga...p*t*ng-*n*...ng mga campaign funds dyan sa mga tao na alam ninyo na gumagawa ng kalokohan kasama yung mga miyembro ng Congress (Do not believe in their intrigues that I'm the lawyer, I'm this...You know what Gordon and Drilon, the truth is, I would not have made it to the presidency, from my mayorship to the presidency, had I been corrupt like you...had I been taking campaign funds from people who do dubious things along with members of Congress)," Duterte said.

Gordon chairs the Blue Ribbon panel, while Drilon is the Senate Minority Leader.

"Kayo dyan ang merong butas. Wala kayong makuha sa amin (You are the ones who have misdeeds. You won't find any with us). It's not in my system, about corruption and money. Ibang bagay siguro, masabi mo meron akong...pero hindi sa pera (Maybe about other things, you can say that I have...but not with money)," the President said.

Poltical pundits refer to the Senate as the chamber of "presidentiables", given how close they are to the Palace in terms of hierchary and stature. Then-Davao City Mayor Duterte somewhat upended this notion when he won the presidential race via landslide in 2016.

"But my personal life, well there are some, those who would like to criticize me. And as a public official I would have to accept the criticisms.

"Pero kung yung sinasabi niyo, ako yung abugado, ako ay...lumang tugtugin na yan. Alam mo sa totoo lang sabi ko, I would not be President Duterte kung corrupt ako kagaya ninyo (But if you're saying that I'm lawyering for people...that's already an old tune, like what I said, I would not be President Duterte if I were corrupt like you)," Duterte said.

The Chief Executive reiterated the Commission on Audit's (COA) findings that it saw no instance of overprincing in the medical supply deals. He said procurement rules under the Bayanihan law were also properly followed.

Duterte has said in the past that he doesn't care what happens to Pharmally and its executives during the Senate investigation.

Gordon, as per Dutere's claims, owes the government some P86 million stemming from the disallowed funds he failed to account for during his time as Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman.

The Talk to the People briefing was recorded late Tuesday night.