President Rodrigo Duterte (MNS Photo)

MANILA, Nov 4 (Mabuhay) — Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday refuted President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that he is not involved in corruption, saying this contradicted a statement the chief executive made years ago.

During the continuation of Senate blue ribbon committee’s investigation into the government procurement of COVID-19 supplies, Gordon cited Duterte’s 2017 speech before a Filipino-Chinese organization where the President supposedly admitted committing corruption.

“Ang isasagot ko lang po para sa alam ng madla, napakasimple lang po. Ito po ang sinabi ng Presidente doon sa Philippine Chinese Charitable Association at Manila Hotel, June 28, 2017,” Gordon said.

Gordon quoted Duterte as saying: “I hate corruption. Hindi ako nagmamalinis. Marami rin akong nanakaw pero naubos na (I am not claiming that I am clean. I also stole money but those were already spent)… Corruption is really out during my term.”

“Inamin niya po yan, admission against self-interest…Yun lang po ang sagot ko, Mr. President,” said Gordon.

“Kayo na umamin na kayo ay nagnakaw sa gobyerno. Di po kami ang nagsabi niyan. Kayo ang nagsabi niyan. Wala po akong nagsasabing nagnakaw kayo,” he added.

In his latest public address, Duterte, once again lambasting Gordon, said he would have not won the presidency if he s corrupt. He then accused Gordon and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon of corruption.

Drilon, in response, said he has never been tried by any anti-graft court in his entire stint as a public servant.

Duterte has been criticizing several senators in his public addresses as the blue ribbon committee, which Gordon chairs, continues to scrutinize the transfer of P42 billion COVID-19 funds from the Department of Health to the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM).

Gordon said it would be Duterte’s fault if there are delays in the course of the Senate investigation.

“Pinapaalam ko lang po sa mga mamamayan natin na talagang kung may delay [sa imbestigasyon] ang may kasalanan po ay ang Pangulo ng Pilipinas, hindi po tayo,” Gordon said.

The lawmaker mentioned the president’s “signals” for the resource persons not to attend the Senate probe because he was being “dragged into it.”

Duterte recently released an order barring concerned Cabinet members from attending the Senate inquiry.

The memorandum, issued October 4 and signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, states that the Senate probe had reached a point where the participation of individuals under the executive department had greatly affected the government’s ability to fulfill its mandate amid the pandemic, echoing President Duterte’s earlier pronouncements.

The Senate is already preparing a petition before the Supreme Court questioning Duterte’s order.

Apart from the transfer of multi-billion funds from the DOH to the PS-DBM, the Senate investigation includes PS-DBM’s purchase of P8.6 billion worth of face masks, face shields, and PPEs from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, a firm that is being linked to Chinese businessman Michael Yang, Duterte’s former economic adviser.

The company only had a P625,000 paid-up capital when it entered transactions with the government.  (MNS)

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