Senator Richard Gordon on Friday hit back at President Rodrigo Duterte for defending individuals being linked to the allegedly overpriced medical supplies bought by the government last year, calling him a "cheap politician."
"You are a cheap politician. . . as cheap as they come, Mr. President," Gordon said in his opening statement during the continuation of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the alleged irregularity.
He also said Duterte is "not a president the Filipino people can respect" and mentioned past instances when the President cursed the Pope and even God.
Gordon said because of Duterte's reputation, "nobody talks" to him during international conferences.
"Nobody talks to you in international conferences because nauuna 'yung reputation ninyo na mapagmura, mapusok at talagang sinasabi ninyong, 'Kill, kill, kill,'" he said.
Gordon said in defending Lao and Yang, Duterte seems to be acting as their lawyer.
"The truth, Mr. President, does not mind being questioned. Ang talagang nagma-mind po ay 'yung mga sinungaling. Ayaw nilang nahahamon sila ng mga tanong na tila nahihirapan silang sagutin," said Gordon, who chairs the committee.
(The truth doesn't mind being questioned. It's the liars who mind being questioned. They don't want to be faced with challenging questions.)
"Kaya di sila makasagot ang tagasagot nila ngayon si Atty. Duterte. Nag-aabogado po si Atty. Duterte ngayon, hindi na siya pangulo ng Pilipinas," he added.
(They can't answer because it's Attorney Duterte who's answering for them. Attorney is now acting as their lawyer, he's no longer the president of the country.)
The lawmaker recalled that Lao, who was the head of the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) when the pandemic supplies in question were procured, served as Duterte's election lawyer in 2016.
"'Wag naman ho na ang utang na loob ay pinapalitan ng katiwalian, na lisensya para magnakaw, para gumawa ng pangungulimbat lalo na kung di maipaliwanag," he said.
(Let's not use debt of gratitude as an excuse for corruption.)
Gordon also denied that the Senate panel is "bullying" the resource persons as accused by Duterte, who has blasted Gordon and the Senate investigation in his recent public addresses.
"This is not an inquisition of sorts as pinapalabas ng pangulo ng Pilipinas na binu-bully natin ang mga testigo," he said.
Gordon also said that the President seems to be in panic mode: "Ang lumalabas natataranta ang Pangulo. Bakit kailangan kayo ang magtanggol, Mr. President?"
Gordon also denied Duterte’s accusation that he is using the Senate inquiry for politicking in connection with the 2022 elections.
“Wala akong ambisyon. Malamang hindi na ako tatakbo sa totoo lang. Ayoko na. Nakapagsilbi na po kami kaya huwag niyo akong pagsabihan na ako mamomolitika dito,” he said.
(I don’t have any ambitions for 2022. I may not run, to be honest. I give up. We already served the people that is why you cannot say that we are politicking here.)
Gordon said it was Durerte who already announced his vice presidential bid in 2022.
“Wala namang akong inaanunsyo. Kayo pa nagsabi, gusto ko mag-vice president. Eh sino ba ang tumatakbong vice president ngayon? Hindi ba kayo, Mr. President?” he said.
(I have not announced anything yet. It is you who said, ‘I want to be vice president.’ Who is running for vice president now? Isn’t it you who said that, Mr. President?)
Duterte had earlier said he would campaign against Gordon in 2022.
In a taped address aired on Thursday, Duterte called Gordon a "despot" and a "pathological storyteller."
“We can’t get a thorough answer from the Senate because it is presided over by a despot, Gordon, who does the talking," Duterte said.
"He can’t help but talk and he interrupts the resource persons with questions and cutting them off and providing the answers that the answer of the resource persons could never have been completed. Di kumpleto kasi binabara niya to the point that the witness is following his theory na may corruption,” he added.
Duterte said he prefers the House of Representatives' investigation into the same issue which he said is "more sane." —KBK, GMA News