Sat, 16 Oct 2021

MANILA - Amid the clarification of the Commission of Audit (COA) that there was no overpricing or irregularity in the purchase of medical supplies related to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic response, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee conducted its sixth inquiry on Friday on how government budget is being spent.

At one point, committee chair Senator Richard Gordon pointed out how they have been exhausted by the proceedings and said he is thinking of quitting politics when his six-year term ends next year.

He said he is not interested in running for other positions.

During the same hearing, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go said the smear campaign against President Rodrigo Duterte must stop.

"Huwag nyo na po kaming itulad sa iba. Pilit po dinadumihan ang kapwa para sila ang pumuti (Do not bunch us with the others who try to find faults to make themselves appear clean)," said Go, who was alsoprevented by Gordon from asking further questions addressed to Overall Deputy Ombudsman Warren Liong because his allowed time is up.

Go likewise asked COA Chair Michael Aguinaldo to post on its website the agency's observations and findings after the Department of Health and Department of Budget and Management have filed documents needed to clear their procurement deals.

"Para, in fairness naman po sa mga ahensya na nagtatrabaho at gusto na pong makapagtrabaho. Kawawa naman po silang nahuhusgahan kaagad. Pero 'pag may kasalanan, may pagkukulang, kasuhan n'yo na po kaagad. Ipasa n'yo na sa Ombudsman (To be fair to agencies that are working well. It's a pity if they will be judged right away. If they did commit irregularities, charge them. Pass it on to the Ombudsman)," Go said.

Go echoed Duterte's earlier pronouncement that instead of conducting staged proceedings, the Senate should file criminal cases against those it thinks are involved in the procurement controversy.

Duterte also directed Solicitor General Jose Calida to request the COA to audit the funds received from the government by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which Gordon leads.

The PRC itself questioned Gordon in 2013 when baller bracelets bearing his name were distributed during a disaster relief drive.

The bracelets reportedly cost millions.

Gordon lost in the senatorial elections that year. (PNA)

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