Following a week of intense quarreling with (among others) Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, President Rodrigo Duterte proved that he wasn’t over it yet, devoting a good chunk of his Talk to the Nation broadcast late Thursday night to the topic of Dick.
Speaking for a full twenty minutes at the end of his hour-long broadcast—where, historically, the president always unleashes the most interesting parts of his speeches—the president really laid into Gordon. Alternately reading from a prepared speech and ranting extemporaneously, Duterte went after the senator, accusing him of politicking and of using his position as chairman of the Philippine Red Cross for his personal gain.
“Dito tayo sa kay Gordon. Eh marami siyang tanong at sasagutin natin. But I would like to say something. Gordon, are you really—investigation in aid of legislation or in aid of your personal political interest?” Duterte said, referencing Gordon’s leadership of the Senate blue ribbon committee probing the government’s pandemic spending.
Without actually addressing any of the senator’s questions, Duterte said that it was “unethical” for Gordon to be chairman of the Red Cross while being a senator. “Alam mo kasi if Red Cross is also a government agency, tapos member ka ng Congress, tumatakbo ka rin at nanalo ka, and you are holding the Red Cross, you are the top honcho there and being a senator and at the same time, eh medyo malabo yata ‘yang ginagawa mo,” Duterte said.
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is not a government agency, in fact. The law recognizes it as an “an independent and autonomous non-government organization”.
Duterte released a series of allegations against the PRC and Senator Gordon, saying that Gordon was “bossy”, and scoring the PRC for allegedly charing P4,700 for Covid-19 testing “without any discount for senior citizens or persons with disabilities” and for “threaten[ing] to stop testing” amid the pandemic.
In October last year, the PRC announced that it needed to stop its free testing program given to returning OFWs and health care frontliners, because of the Php930M debt by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
Ramping up the accusations, Duterte also questioned the PRC’s alleged plans to sell vaccines for Php3,500 a shot, saying that Gordon was profiting Php1,000 from each one. “Is the Red Cross saving money so that it would eventually pass a resolution to set aside a big amount to fund your elections plans just like the funds you used in the 2010 and 2013 campaign?” Duterte said, offering no evidence. “Alam mo ginagamit mo itong Red Cross, and I dare say na ginamit mo talaga ito para sa elections. Ito ‘yung milking cow mo eh sa totoo lang.”
Duterte closed off his tirade by implying that Gordon had no right to question his government’s transactions given the alleged anomalies at the PRC. “So, ganoon sauce for the gander, sauce for the goose. That’s it,” Duterte concluded.