Gordon a former Duterte supporter? No way, says senator
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday belied that he was a former supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, saying that he actually backed another candidate in the 2016 elections.
Gordon in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart on Tuesday was asked about him being perceived as a senator supportive of the Duterte administration — which he quickly countered by saying that he voted for Senator Grace Poe.
Poe and Duterte were among the candidates in the 2016 presidential race.
“No, no, I voted for Grace Poe, excuse me. I have always been open about that, I am no hypocrite,” Gordon said.
According to the Senator, he considered Duterte as a friend, and as a courtesy to the President, he visited him when he was called.
“I’m a lawyer, he is a friend. ‘Pag tinawag ka ng presidente pupunta ka, pero wala akong hinihingi sa kanya na untoward (favors),” he noted.
Gordon explained that claims about him supporting Duterte came from perceptions that he was siding with the administration during the drug war hearings and the probe on allegations that the President was operating a vigilante death squad in Davao.
He said that he cannot just admit a supposed tattoo on Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte’s back as evidence, as then-senator Antonio Trillanes IV would have wanted to.
Also, Gordon revealed that he felt bad when Trillanes allowed self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato to leave the Senate premises out of security concerns, even if the committee chaired by Gordon was still conducting its hearing.
“Alam mo ang sama ng loob ko do’n, nilabas nila ‘yong mga pulis, sila Matobato, and later on they (were) put as witness […] Ang problema ko, tinawag ko ‘yong Davao Death Squad na sinasabi, pinagha-harap ko sila no’ng gabi, no’ng tawagin ko na si Matobato para magharap. Tinakbo eh, ‘don ako nagkaroon ng lungkot kay Senator (Leila) de Lima at kay Senator Trillanes, ba’t mo tinakbo nagi-imbestiga tayo dito,” he added.
“Tapos sasabihin ninyo maka-Duterte ako? No way, no way,” he added.
Gordon and Duterte have been at odds over the Senate blue ribbon committee’s investigation into the alleged anomalous transactions involving Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp, which cornered the bulk of the Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 funds amounting to P67.32 billion. Gordon heads that committee.
This was after the revelation that over P8.6 billion of the funds transferred by DOH to the procuring entities like the Procuring Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) went to the company, despite it having a small paid-up capital of P625,000.
In the process of investigating Pharmally, several close allies of the administration — from former PS-DBM head Lloyd Christopher Lao, former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang, businessman Lin Wei Xiong, and others — were dragged into the discussions.
Just recently, Gordon called out a lawyer for trying to hide his connection to Malacañang, as he used to work under the Office of the President before acting as counsel for Pharmally officials, siblings Mohit and Twinkle Dargani.
Duterte then brought up several issues against Gordon, in one instance saying that he will bring the Senator to the Ombudsman if the ‘disallowed’ Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) funds are not returned.
Gordon was once head of SBMA.
Aside from that, Duterte also claimed that Gordon diverted millions of his pork barrel into the Philippine Red Cross, the humanitarian organization that the latter is chairperson of.
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