Gordon to Duterte: You? Teaching me courtesy?
MANILA, Philippines — Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
Sen. Richard Gordon lashed back at President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday for admonishing him to “be courteous” during the Senate blue ribbon hearings, noting how ironic it was, coming from someone who had cursed at God and disrespected women.
“So spare me a lecture about character, especially from someone who hardly knows what it means,” Gordon said in a statement addressing the president.
He was reacting to Duterte’s criticisms against him during the latter’s prerecorded “Talk to the People” address that aired on Monday. The president had called out the blue ribbon chair for “shouting” at resource persons during the Senate inquiry on Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.’s questionable transactions with the government.
“This is not feudal times. You have to be courteous. If you want to be treated with courtesy, you have to practice it,” Duterte said.
But Gordon said there were good reasons for him to raise his voice.
“When I raise my voice to people who blatantly curse my God and disrespect our women, I am enraged at how these disparaging insults are going on unchecked and unchallenged at the expense of our faith and our sense of humanity,” he said, alluding to Duterte’s controversial comments in the past.
In June 2018, the president grabbed headlines and sparked outrage when he remarked: “Who is this stupid God?”
In September 2018, he also received condemnation for joking that “as long as there are beautiful women, there will be rape” — one of several misogynistic comments he has made over the years.
Gordon said that between them, it was Duterte who was arrogant and disrespectful.
“If it is arrogance of power the President is so concerned about, our people know too well who between us has abused his power and has enabled massive corruption to permeate in our government,” he said.
“Yes, I raise my voice because our people, especially our health-care workers and essential front-liners, are suffering for long, losing their jobs and livelihood, getting sick and their loved ones are dying due to the government’s neglect and inaction,” Gordon said.
“When I raise my voice to people who shamelessly lie or hide the truth, I call that outrage, because I cannot keep silent at how the government was swindled by a gang of rich kids in cahoots with greedy public officials,” he added.
Prez at the center
Last week, Gordon said his panel’s preliminary findings pointed to the president as being at the center of Pharmally’s questionable transactions with the government, saying it “could never have happened without [his] imprimatur.”
Pharmally, a company with a paid-up capital of only P625,000 in 2019, was the government’s biggest supplier of pandemic goods in the past two years, bagging P11.5 billion worth of contracts, most of which were coursed through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).
The PS-DBM, under former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, contracted Pharmally on behalf of the Department of Health for face masks, face shields, personal protective equipment sets, COVID-19 test kits, and other medical items after the agency transferred at least P42 billion of its pandemic funds to the procurement office last year.
But the transfer was flagged by the Commission on Audit for lack of supporting documents, triggering the Gordon panel’s motu proprio investigation.
The Senate committee has since unearthed several alleged irregularities with Pharmally’s contracts, including findings that some batches of the face shields were substandard with tampered production dates, the test kits were nearly expired when delivered and inspection reports of the goods were falsified, among others.
It also led to the discovery of the alleged role of Duterte’s Chinese friend and former economic adviser Michael Yang, who was said to have been Pharmally’s financial backer, a claim he denied.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.