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Gordon claims COA harassed him for 30-year-old case when he was SBMA chairman

Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday claimed that he was "harassed" by the Commission on Audit in connection with the supposed disallowance of P146.8 million worth of expenses when he was chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Gordon made the remark while he was asking a COA official for an update as regards the special audit on the Department of Health's COVID-19 funds that he requested from the commission. 

"Is there any status report in what we requested from COA? After all, I voted for (COA) Chairman Mr. (Michael) Aguinaldo in spite of the harassment of COA upon my person in a case supposedly done 30 years ago when I was in SBMA that we already explained and that was clearly," Gordon told COA auditor Rhodora Ugay during the continuation of the Blue Ribbon Committee's inquiry into the government's contracts with Pharmally Corp.

"I have no problems with that, I did everything right in Subic," he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said in his public addresses that Gordon had to pay up in connection with the multi-million-peso disallowances when he was SBMA chairman.

Duterte said state auditors ordered the SBMA to collect the P146.8 million for the disallowed expenses. 

"Ito naman kay Gordon, the Commission on Audit in an order of execution, instructed SBMA chairman Wilma Eisma to immediately cause the collection of settlement of the P146.8 million liability of various former and current SBMA officials including Senator Richard Gordon for the liability that amounts to roughly P86 million," Duterte said in one of his speeches.

Gordon's lawyer, Attorney Anacleto Diaz said that the funds were "lawfully spent" and accounted for to convert the former US naval base into an investment hub.

Diaz also noted that the order for collection of P140.7 million cannot be demanded, citing lack of factual, legal and equitable grounds.

GMA News Online has sought a comment from the COA regarding Gordon's remark that he was "harassed" in the disallowance issue.

On the special audit, Ugay said she was in no position to give an update since she was not part of the special audit team.

"I am  not part of the audit team, I am not in the position to monitor their  status," said Ugay, who was participating through a Zoom call.

When requested by Gordon to follow up the special audit team's status to Aguinaldo, Ugay said she will ask the central office to update the senators on the special audit.

Aguinaldo said they began the special audit on the controversial Pharmally deals, adding that they expect it to be finished before 2021. —NB, GMA News