MANILA— Sen. Richard Gordon said Wednesday he would make a presidential bid in next year's elections.
"I’m a Michael Jordan on the bench. I’m going to do the job," he told ANC's Headstart when asked about his certainty to run for president.
The senator said he was grateful to "his friends and kapanaligs" who said he has the track record to run for president. It would be his second time to seek the country's highest post; he failed his bid in 2010.
Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, cited the humanitarian organization's contribution to the country's fight against the pandemic.
"The field is quite weak, kulang ang kanilang track record and I agree. Hindi sa mayabang ako pero may ipagmamayabang naman tayo," he said.
(The field is quite weak, others' track record is lacking and I agree. It's not that I'm arrogant but I have reason to be.)
"Give me time because again there are a lot of things, I wanna concentrate doing the work I’m doing right now."
Gordon said he "refuses to reveal his cards, even for the Senate," when asked about his preferred running mate.
"Ako ang hinahabol ko ang karapat-dapat," he said.
(I'm going for those who deserve the position.)
"I condemn these surveys, they have no business, that’s very irresponsible na sinasabi nila ito ang mananalo. Ano 'yan, pupusta ba ang mga tao?"
(That's very irresponsible to say that this person would win. Is this betting?)
Gordon lagged in a recent survey on preferred presidential bets.
The senator earlier said he met with Vice President Leni Robredo and discussed next year's polls.
"I never offered her anything, we just talked about the political situation. We asked each other certain things that might happen and the answer was affirmative and that’s as far as I go," he said.
'FIRE OFFICIALS WHO CAN'T ANSWER AUDIT REPORTS'
In the interview, Gordon said that if he were president, he would fire officials who cannot properly answer audits submitted by the Commission on Audit.
"When there is smoke, there is fire," he said.
"If I were the President, 'Uy, panay ang banat sa inyo ng COA. Wag kayong magalit sa COA. Ipaliwanag niyo sa amin bago pa umabot sa Congress bakit hindi ninyo nagagastos ang pera,'" he told ANC's Headstart.
(If I were the President, 'The COA has been reporting about you. Don't be mad at COA. Explain to us before it reaches Congress why you were unable to spend the money.)
He added, government officials must also be asked about failure to implement the modernization of the military, the lack of fund for education, and the planned purchase of computers worth P700,000 when students are struggling with distance learning.
"These are good questions and I think that is on the administration to answer. If they cannot answer, then the people will know who to vote for next time," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier warned COA to stop flagging deficiencies in government projects, especially those connected to pandemic response. This is after the audit body flagged the health department's deficiencies in managing funds for COVID-19 response.
Among the deficiencies cited in the audit report were the agency's lack of documentation, purchases that were disadvantageous to government, and issuance of cash allowances, gift certificates, and grocery items among other things.
The DOH has denied corruption allegation in connection to the COA findings and said it is about to complete its response to state auditors.
A panel at the House of Representatives has begun investigating the matter and Gordon's Blue Ribbon Committee at the Senate is set to have its hearing this Wednesday.
Gordon said while he understands why Health Sec. Francisco Duque III turned emotional during the House hearing, the minister should have just explained the supposed deficiencies.
"Di ka naman dapat magwala dyan dahil ang COA, bibigyan ka ng mga observations nila, lalo na ito, very preliminary pa lang ito. They have at least 60 days to answer all the discrepancies," he said.
(You should not lose your cool over this because COA gives its observations, and especially this which is very preliminary. They have at least 60 days to answer all the discrepancies.)
"He should have said that ‘I’m ready to answer, I can answer most of them.' Pero if he had said that in a very dignified manner, then I think there would be less flak but you know he is very emotional and I can understand where he’s coming from," he added.
The senator said this was "much ado about nothing" because it can be explained, but most salient issue that must be discussed is the payment of allowances to nurses and other health workers.