Duterte asks Gordon if he diverted millions of his pork barrel to Red Cross
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte continued his series of tirades against Sen. Richard Gordon on Mondy during his taped weekly briefing, asking if the senator diverted part of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the now-defunct pork barrel of lawmakers, to the Philippine Red Cross.
Gordon, who chairs the Red Cross, also heads the Senate blue ribbon committee that has been investigating alleged irregularities — including overpricing — in the purchase of medical items for the government’s COVID-19 response from Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Michael Yang, a former economic adviser of Duterte, was said to be a Pharmally financier, which he denied.
The Senate probe has angered the president, who then hit back at Gordon.
“You know, Dick, it’s so easy. It’s easy to accuse,” Duterte said in his briefing, speaking partly in Filipino and addressing Gordon by his nickname. “It’s easy to accuse somebody, government, just for mileage. I know you. You have been there for so many years. I can’t see anything except this issue involving [Janet Lim] Napoles.”
Napoles is now serving her prison term at the Correctional Institution for Women after being convicted of plunder as the mastermind of a multibillion pork barrel scam involving three other senators.
“I want to know if you received — is it P88 million? — for your PDAF. This is just for the sake of truth… You parked it [the P88 million] in your PDF. So you co-mingled it with the money of the Red Cross and of Congress and you took it. Now the money is lost forever. It cannot be accounted [for] anymore,” Duterte said.
Duterte admitted he did “not have the correct figure.”
“You transferred it to the funds of the Red Cross — which means to say now, it could no longer be audited by the COA [Commission on Audit] because, as you said, COA cannot audit the Red Cross. If it’s not true, forgive me. But if it’s true, you must answer it,” he said.
Duterte had earlier ordered the Office of the Solicitor General to ask COA to check the financial records of the Philippine Red Cross, which is a nongovernment organization.
In response to the tirades, Gordon called Duterte a “cheap politician” for supposedly protecting those linked to the procurement of allegedly overpriced medical items to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
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