PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to file a case against Sen. Richard Gordon for allegedly failing to return some P86 million worth of public funds.
In his pre-recorded public address aired Wednesday night, Duterte said the Commission on Audit (COA) issued a notice of disallowance for P140 million to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) under Gordon’s leadership, but the senator allegedly pocketed P86 million.
He said that the notice of disallowance is a sort of “final imprimatur” that CoA has finished its audit.
“So I would like to inquire from the Ombudsman if there is a case filed against you because lahat na na-disallow (everything was disallowed) and the money was not returned. The money was not used in the right way. It reduces into something like a personal liability,” he said.
“Nasaan na yung pera? (Where is the money?) So kindly settle or I will personally see to it that a case is filed against you,” Duterte said of Gordon, who served as the chairman of SBMA from 1992 to 1998.
Dutere, a lawyer, said Gordon’s supposed crime in connection with the unreturned money is malversation.
Aside from being threatened with malversation, the President reckoned that the senator should be facing the Sandiganbayan, the government’s anti-graft court.” This court hears criminal and other cases filed against public officials by the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Of course, you are not exempted from prosecution. You can be charged. Anong hindi ka sa arrest [What do you mean you can’t be arrested]? Malversation,” Duterte said.
“Ibig sabihin binulsa mo yung pera (That means you pocketed the money),” he added. “Yung utang mo bayaran mo na yan, ang tagal na pala yan (Pay back that debt of yours, it’s been quite some time).”
Duterte also urged Gordon to give up one of his positions, claiming that it is illegal for him to be both a senator and the chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) at the same time.
Then he accused Gordon again of diverting his Priority Development Assistance Fund, the now-defunct pork barrel of lawmakers, to the PRC.
“Do not say that Red Cross and ikaw ay (you are) separate identity. That’s bullsh*t. You are a dual personality that is banned or prohibited by law. Dapat noon pa dinemanda ka na. Wala lang naglakas ng loob (You should have been sued long ago. It’s just that nobody was brave enough),” he said.
Duterte pointed out that not even Cabinet members could be officers of a corporation or any other business entity dealing with the government.
“Bawal ‘yan, actually. Bawal. Bitawan mo na ‘yan (That is prohibited. Prohibited. Give that up) because I will insist that you give up one because you cannot be both,” he added.
However, the Supreme Court had resolved in 2009 that Gordon could keep both his position as a senator and as PRC chairman, the PRC neither being a government office nor a for-profit organization.
The law prohibits anyone from holding two concurrent positions in government or another position in a private company that could give rise to a conflict of interest.
Gordon is the chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee that has been investigating the Duterte administration’s purchase of medical supplies for pandemic response.
This is the second time this week that Duterte mentioned Gordon and the PRC in his late-night “Talk to the People” address.
On Monday, Duterte insisted on having the CoA look at the finances of the PRC.
He also alleged that the PRC erred multiple times in conducting Covid-19 tests in the country.
CoA chairman Michael Aguinaldo has said state auditors have no jurisdiction over the humanitarian organization as it is not a government agency.
The PRC board of governors, in a statement, has also said it does not receive any funds from the government.
Gordon has yet to issue a statement regarding Duterte’s latest allegations, as of posting time.