Senator Bong Go on Tuesday cried foul over allegations linking him to the issues hounding the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service s (DBM-PS) purchase of overpriced pandemic supplies.
In a privilege speech, Go denied anew his link to former budget official Christopher Lloyd Lao, who served as the DBM-PS chief when the medical goods were procured at the onset of the pandemic.
He claimed that his colleagues were insisting that he and Lao had work relationship.
“I support our collective goal to find out the truth. But if we do not know how to listen, or, worse,? if we already have a conclusion even before getting all the facts, then we have failed in providing the people true and accurate information. Aren t we all for the truth? I am one with you here in the Committee,” Go said.
“Magkasama tayo lalong-lalo na po sa laban sa korapsyon sa gobyerno, sana naman po sa tamang paraan. Hindi po sa bullying na pamamaraan,” he added.
(We are together especially in the fight against corruption in government but please do it in a right manner, not through bullying.)
Go also denied that there was a “grand scheme” of robbery under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The former aide of Duterte also questioned the hearings being led by Senate blue ribbon chairman Richard Gordon, claiming that resource persons were scolded when the answer doesn t fit the expected narrative.
“It seems like some already had an answer in their minds and if they did not get what they want to hear, they will say the resource person is evasive. Parang may mali naman doon, Mr. President,” he said.
In last week s Senate hearing, Lao was warned of being held in contempt when Gordon and Senator Panfilo Lacson observed that the former DBM-PS chief was being evasive in answering questions on his appointments in various government posts.
“Sobrang unfair naman po na para lang sumikat ka, ikaw na ang nag-iimbestiga at nagtatanong, ikaw pa ang sasagot at huhusga. Tapos magagalit ka kapag hindi ayon sa gusto mo ang sagot. Tapos ngayon nandadamay ka pa ng kapwa mo senador,” Go apparently referring to Gordon.
(It is so unfair that in order to get the spotlight, you will take the role of investigator, interrogator, then you will also be the one to judge the resource person. You will reprimand them if you don't like their answers and then drag your fellow senator into this.)
“Remember pareho tayong senador dito. Pareho tayong halal at pinili ng tao. Baka nga mas marami pa akong boto sayo at mas maraming nagtitiwala sa akin na mga Pilipino,” he said.
(Remember, we are both senators here. We are both elected and chosen by the people. I may have gotten more votes than you because more Filipinos trust me.)
At one point in his speech, Go told Gordon to inhibit himself from inquiries involving the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) due to “conflict of interest.”
He further accused Gordon of treating him only as a “resource person,” adding that he was deprived of giving opening statements.
While defending Duterte’s appointments of officials from Davao City, Go cited an instance when Gordon recommended an official for a government post.
“Ikaw po mismo, meron kang ni-recommend noon. Itinawag mo sa ‘kin, nakarating kay Pangulo, na-appoint ni Pangulo. Meron bang nagkuwestyon? Eh kung qualified naman po ang tao, ina-appoint po ng Pangulo. Eh ikaw mismo, tumatawag at nagrerekomenda. Huwag kang magmalinis,” Go said.
(You also recommend someone in the past. You called me and it reached the president. Did someone question it? If he is qualified, the president will surely appoint him. How do you explain that instance when you called me and recommended someone? Don t pretend that you are clean.)
“It is the President s prerogative who to appoint in his office and in his administration. Kung gusto mong makialam sa appointments, maging Pangulo ka po,” he added.
(If you want to dip your fingers in the appointment of officials, then be a president.)
Go also said he will welcome any investigation to end all speculations.
Earlier today, Gordon said Go may face a Senate ethics committee probe over his alleged links to Lao.
He said he will resign if it is proven that he is involved to any graft issues.
“Maging patas po tayo. Kaunting respeto naman po sana mula sa kapwa Senador, kaya ako, Mr. President, kung ako mapatunayang sangkot sa kahit anong korapsyon ni piso, I will resign,” he said.
(Let s be fair. Give some respect to your fellow senator. If it will be proven that I am involved in any kind of corruption even if it involves just one peso, I will resign.)
Gordon clapped back at Go, saying his privilege speech and Duterte’s tirades against him and the Senate are meant to distract the public from the issue of corruption.
“I just want to say this, there have been repeated attempts to distract the investigation. No less from our own President of the Republic of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Gordon manifested.
“Ito pong ginawa natin dito ayaw ko pong ma-divert ang public attention, yun ang attempt. Inaalis sa attention ng publiko yung talagang kuwestyon na ano ba talaga ang nangyari,” he added.
(What we are doing here right now is an attempt to divert public attention and I don t want the public to be swayed.)
He likewise denied that Go was being treated as a “totoy” or a newbie in the Senate and he was being mistreated.
Later on, he slammed Go for speaking to him as if he has “been a veteran of the Senate.”
Gordon also reminded Go of “rough and tumbles” of a democratic country, saying he will not back down from the influence of those from Davao.
“May sama ng loob ang ginoo from Davao, there are rules in the Senate that you can go to, but this representation and the blue ribbon will not be distracted. All the senators that attended support it,” he said.
“Let us be brave enough to answer and if we cannot answer, let us not resort to ad hominems and let us not resort to destroying institutions,” he ended.
In a virtual interview earlier today, Gordon told Duterte to direct his appointees to answer the issues on procurement of overpriced pandemic supplies instead of launching personal attacks against him.
Duterte, in a taped public address, slammed Gordon over the seven-hour “talkathon” in the last Senate Blue Ribbon committee investigation into the alleged overpriced pandemic supplies.
Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan