Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday made it clear that he did not support then Davao city Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for president when the latter ran for the country’s top government post in the May 2016 elections.
In fact, Gordon said, he voted for Sen. Grace Poe, who was also running for president at the time of the 2016 polls.
“No, I voted for Grace Poe, excuse me. I have always been open about it. I am no hypocrite,” Gordon said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart when asked about perceptions he was a supporter of the Duterte administration.
But Gordon, who is seeking a fresh term in the Senate in the upcoming May 2022 elections, clarified he considered Duterte as a friend and as courtesy to the President, he visited the leader when he is called.
“I’m a lawyer, he is a friend. When the president calls for you, you come. But I never asked him for anything that is untoward,” he pointed out.
The senator also rejected claims he sided with the Duterte administration when the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which he chairs, investigated allegations the President is behind the so-called “Davao death squad” which is behind the vigilante-style of killings that occurred during the height of the war on drug campaign.
Gordon explained he was disappointed that Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV helped then self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato to leave the Senate premises while the blue ribbon panel was still investigating.
“Then they will tell me I was pro-Duterte? No way!” he stressed.
Gordon and Duterte have been at odds over the Senate panel’s investigation into the alleged questionable transaction between the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. and the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Services (DBM-PS) on the procurement of overpriced COVID-19 supplies during the height of the pandemic.
Gordon, and other senators including Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon and Senate President Vicente Sotto III questioned why Pharmally, which cornered the bulk of the Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 funds, won the supply contract despite having a small paid-up capital of only P625,000.
In the same interview, Gordon said he fully believes that the mess involving Pharmally officials have all the footprints and hallmarks of Malacañang and Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, the administration’s presidential candidate in the upcoming elections.
He pointed out that in the panel’s probe into Pharmally’s dealings with the government, the names of the individuals that came up during the investigation had eitehr worked for Duterte or campaigned for him in the 2016 elections.
He cited in particular ex-DBM-PS head Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, Deputy Ombudsman Warren Rex Liong, and lawyer Daryl Valles who are all officials who worked under Go when the latter was still workign as the Special Assistant to the President (SAP).
“What is their common denominator? They were all appointed by the President, all of them came from Davao, all of them worked, at some time or another, with the President,” Gordon pointed out.
“All of them campaigned for the President, all of them worked with Sen. Go. And these are known henchmen of the President,” he stressed.
Go, he said, cannot just feign ignorance to his links to the officials mentioned even though he rejects the notion of being guilty by association.
“From day one he has been very defensive…But the point is there is a lot of series of circumstance…I’m not saying Bong Go should be part of it, but certainly, no one can get appointed to the Office of the President without the fingerprints and the recommendation of Sen. Bong Go. That he cannot deny,” Gordon stressed.