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Duterte orders SolGen: Ask COA to audit Philippine Red Cross

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte orders SolGen: Ask COA to audit Philippine Red Cross
Photo taken in 2018 shows President Duterte greeting Sen. Richard Gordon during an oath-taking ceremony at Malacañang.

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Solicitor General Jose Calida to ask state auditors to audit the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), whose chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, is leading a probe on the supposedly overpriced pandemic response supplies purchased by the government.

During a pre-recorded public address aired Thursday, Duterte said the senators investigating the procurement of medical supplies are "stupid" and are just grandstanding. He went on to claim that while there is corruption in some agencies, his Cabinet members are "clean."

"But I'm making you this guarantee, ‘yung Cabinet members ko wala ‘yan, puro malinis ‘yan. Ang mga senador mayroon (My Cabinet members are not involved in corruption. They are all clean. Senators are the ones involved). Gordon is one," Duterte said.

The president then instructed Calida to write Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Michael Aguinaldo to immediately conduct an audit of the finances of the PRC. Aguinaldo previously said the COA has no jurisdiction over the PRC, a non-government humanitarian organization. The president, however, insisted that Red Cross is not exclusively an international body because it receives government funds.  

"The next step would really be the letter to be delivered to the COA by Solicitor General Calida regarding my request to audit the Red Cross," Duterte said.

"Who are you Gordon? You are nothing but a corrupt official. We will reach a point that I will have it audited. I will force the issue... You accepted money so you should be amenable to the audit because that is the money of the Filipino people," he added.

'I am not a thief like you'

Gordon has assailed Duterte for criticizing the Senate blue ribbon committee's probe on the procurement of medical supplies and asked him whether he is hiding something. He has also claimed that Duterte was practically "inciting to sedition" when he asked officials to ignore senators.

Duterte, however, said he is not intimidated by Gordon's tirades.

“Hindi mo ako matakot (You can't scare me), not in a million years. Hindi ako kawatan kagaya mo. Wala akong Red Cross na ginagatasan araw-araw (I am not a thief like you. I don’t have a Red Cross that can serve as my milking cow everyday)," the president said.  

Duterte has accused Gordon of using the PRC ro raise funds for his election campaigns but the senator dismissed the allegation as an attempt to divert attention away from the Senate probe.

The president claimed the senator is playing with people's lives because  people are being asked to pay for blood.

"Your capital is blood. You have no shame," he said.

"You pay for it even if you are poor. But the purpose of bloodletting is to provide help to your fellow Filipinos."  

Insults

Duterte went on to unleash a slew of insults against Gordon, saying the senator has lost his respect.

The president called him a "despot" and a "pathological storyteller" who kept on interrupting the resource persons who attended Senate hearings. Duterte also advised the public to dump Gordon in the upcoming elections because he is a "fraud."

"Mga kababayan ko, patawarin niyo na' yang si Gordon. Huwag niyo na lang iboto ang buang na yan. Walang silbi yan (To my countrymen, just forgive Gordon. Don't vote for that crazy man. He is useless," Duterte said.

He also attacked Gordon's physical appearance, saying a vampire could suck a lot of blood from him because of his weight.

"(Kung makausap ko si Dracula, ipakagat kita natutulog, kuhanin lahat ng dugo mo. Marami kang dugo, katawan mo bilog na bilog, puro dugo ‘yan (If I can speak with Dracula, I would ask him to bite you while you sleep and get all your blood. YOu have a lot of blood. Your body is so round, that's full of blood)," Duterte said.

Duterte lauds House hearing

While Duterte had harsh words for the Senate hearings, he was all praises for the recent inquiry on pandemic supply purchases conducted by the House of Representatives, a chamber dominated by his allies.

"Now, I’m happy that the House...the committee on good government and public accountability...initiated a congressional inquiry into the alleged misuse of funds of certain agencies for the government’s COVID-19 response," Duterte said.

"I think those who were already called in the Senate might be called by the House to testify again. So that is good because in the House, they will be given every chance to talk. It was fair...The witnesses were heard and...(were) allowed to explain, there was no badgering and no bullying, no one argued with the resource person," he added.

Duterte said last Wednesday's House hearing was "a more sane inquiry" and was "devoid of rudeness, bias, and partiality perpetrated by Gordon."

"It was an investigation that was not conclusive and based on facts as provided by the resource person," he said.

"But at least in the House, you’d have a fair chance of getting your story being heard with courtesy and with... no pathological legislator bullying you to no end."

Duterte, nevertheless, said he would allow Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to attend Senate hearings to "complete his story."

"Just to allow Gordon to show more of his stupidity. I asked him to go back...just tell the plain truth to Gordon," he added. 

CORRUPTION DICK GORDON PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE
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