President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday asked Senator Richard Gordon whether it is true that he “parked” at least P88 million in pork barrel funds with the Philippine Red Cross.
“I want to know – did you accept P88 million? From your PDAF [priority development assistance fund]? If this is true… You parked your PDAF and co-mingled it with the money of the Red Cross. What you got – now the money is lost forever, if this is true?” the President said in his pre-recorded Talk to the People aired late Monday evening.
Duterte, however, admitted that he is unsure of the figure because “somebody just whispered it in my ear.”
“If this is not true, then forgive me. But if it is true, you must answer it. I am going to insist that the Commission on Audit conduct an audit on the Red Cross,” the President added.
Duterte said the Blue Ribbon inquiry led by Gordon was meant to besmirch his reputation and that of his administration “because the election is just around the corner.”
“Your intentions are clearer than day… Why are you trying to cook something there? We do not even know the ingredients you were cooking up,” he said.
The President stressed that COA itself said there was no overpricing nor ghost deliveries in the multi-billion-peso supply contracts awarded to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
“What else are you looking for? COA already said there was no overpricing, no ghost deliveries. Tell us what you are looking for so we can present what you need,” he added.
Duterte said Gordon fashioned himself to be a graft buster when the hearing was really “a fishing expedition, a witch hunt.”
Gordon earlier insisted there was “intrinsic overpricing” in the P8.68 billion contracts awarded to Pharmally.
“What is clear is there was intrinsic overpricing. On March 25, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III requested 15 million PPEs for P2,000 each. That became a signal,” the senator said.
“So as long as it is below P2,000 – happy days are here. So their bids were P1,998, P1,902 – they think that just because we are in the middle of a pandemic, there are no legal, technical and financing requirements that must be demanded from the bidders,” Gordon added.