President Duterte on Monday, September 13, warned Senator Richard Gordon, who is leading the investigations into the government’s procurement of alleged overpriced medical supplies during the pandemic, that he will campaign against him when he runs in the 2022 polls.
The senator has yet to decide what position he will be running for in 2022, although he earlier said he is open to seeking the presidency with a vice-presidential runningmate who is a “health expert.” He is also up for reelection along with seven other senators.
“I would like to remind Senator Gordon na I will campaign against you for being unfit to be a senator of this Republic,” Duterte addressed Gordon during his pre-recorded Talk to the People on Tuesday.
The public address was taped on Monday night but aired at 9 a.m. the next day.
The Chief Executive berated Gordon for insisting that the government’s procurement of medical supplies are linked to Chinese personalities.
“Others are trying to be a Chinese, when they are not. Ikaw naman (About you), you’re trying to be an American na hindi ka naman talaga totoong Amerikano (when you are really not an American),” Duterte said.
He questioned the Senate hearings that last for hours, saying that the senators are wasting the time of government officials who should be attending to their work.
“Every time there is a committee hearing you subpoena more than 100 resource persons and witnesses. And more than of half of that number comes from the government. Instead of working, they stop to attend hearings that last for more than five hours. Tama ba ‘yang ginagawa ninyo (Is what you’re doing right)?” Duterte asked.
“Are you crazy? Bakit ganun ka (Why are you like that)? Can you not approximate the time you take, to make these persons testify, question and answer,” he added.
The two officials’ word war started weeks earlier when Gordon, the chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, started looking into the billions-worth government contracts between the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS), and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Inc.
According to the Senate inquiry, the Health department transferred money to DBM-PS to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers last year. The DBM-PS, which was tasked to be the one-stop shop for government agencies, procured the medical supplies from Pharmally, a newly-registered pharmaceutical company with only P625,000 in capitalization.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents showed that the Philippine government is the only client of Pharmally, whose profits ballooned during the pandemic.
Gordon is questioning also the link between Pharmally and Michael Yang, Duterte’s ex-economic adviser. He is also looking into the ties between former DBM-PS head Christopher Lloyd Lao, the Chief Executive’s fraternity brother, and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go.
The President said he will get back at Gordon by requiring an audit of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which Gordon chairs as a volunteer, to be conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Previously, the senator came to Duterte’s defense during the latter’s war on drugs campaign. Among the highlights of the campaign was the filing of charges and detention of incumbent Senator Leila de Lima, one of the President’s staunchest critics.