MANILA - Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday said at least 4 senators are in favor of investigating Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go's links with former officials who were tagged in the questionable purchase of COVID-19 supplies.
At least 3 former officials from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) who were involved in transactions with Pharmally - a company using bogus addresses in its incorporation records - worked under Go when he headed the Presidential Management Staff from June 2016 to October 2018, Gordon told reporters in an online press conference.
"Bong Go knows them... It's quite obvious that these people are his proteges," he said.
"I cannot believe he didn't know them. I cannot believe he had no influence over these people. I cannot believe these people got these appointments na hindi dumaan sa kaniya (that did not pass through him)," he said.
Gordon was referring to former DBM officials Lloyd Christopher Lao, Warren Liong, and Anderson Lo who were allegedly involved in the transfer and disbursement of P67 billion from the Department of Health (DOH) to the DBM's Procurement Service (PS-DBM).
Liong was Go's batchmate in La Salle, while Lao and Lo were part of President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign team in 2016, said Gordon, who heads the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
"Kapag tinahi-tahi mo yan, there seems to be a pattern that is emerging. Wala pa kami sinasabi ano iyon," he said.
(If you tie them together, there seems to be a pattern that is emerging. We are not saying what that pattern is yet.)
"There may be some explanations that need to be made... I asked my fellow senators, 'Ano ba sa tingin ninyo?' Kapag umabot sa (Senate) ethics committee, sabi nila, 'We will support you,'" he said.
(There may be some explanations that need to be made... I asked my fellow senators, "What do you think?" If this reaches the [Senate] ethics committee, they said, "We will support you.")
Gordon said Go, who heads the Senate Health Committee, never launched an investigation into the alleged procurement of overpriced pandemic supplies.
"Mukhang ang lalaki noong amounts na pinipirmahan and I don't hear Malacañang investigating them... that arouses suspicion," Gordon said.
(The amounts they approved seem really big and I don't hear Malacañang investigating them... that arouses suspicion.)
"Bong Go didn't do anything."
GO CRIES 'BULLYING'
Hours after Gordon's virtual press conference, Go delivered a privilege speech on the Senate plenary blasting Gordon for allegedly trying to push a narrative against him and the Duterte administration.
"Sobrang unfair naman po na para lang sumikat ka, ikaw na ang nag-iimbestiga at nagtatanong, ikaw pa ang sasagot at huhusga," Go said.
(It is very unfair that just because you want to be popular, you are the one who investigates and asks, and you are also the one who answers and renders judgment.)
"Tapos magagalit ka kapag hindi ayon sa gusto mo ang sagot. Tapos ngayon nandadamay ka pa ng kapwa mo senador," he said.
(Then you will be angry if you don't get the answer you want. And now you are even tagging a fellow senator.)
Go also accused the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairperson of "bullying" him during the panel's proceedings.
"Kahit sa mga hearings, umpisa pa lang, noon pa magkatabi tayo sa isang hearing, kahit sa mga hearing, ang trato mo sa akin parang resource person lang na pwede mong barahin habang nagsasalita," he said.
(Even from the start, when we sat beside each other during hearings, you treat me like a resource person that you can shut out even while I am speaking.)
Go said he is ready to face investigations to prove his innocence.
"Handa po akong magpa-imbestiga bilang senador. Handa po akong magpa-imbestiga, wala po akong tinatago, wala po akong kinakatakutan," he said.
(I am ready to be investigated as a senator. I am ready to be investigated because I am not hiding anything, I have nothing to fear.)
"Sa nag-aakusa sa akin, huwag mo akong itulad sa inyo... Dahil ako, nagtratrabaho ng matino dito."
(To the one who accused me, don't expect I am like you... because I am working righteously here.)
Gordon dismissed Go's statements as another attempt to distract the public from the issues being unveiled during the Senate investigation on irregularities under the PS-DBM.
Senators have yet to firm up plans to haul Go before the Ethics committee, Gordon said.
"Baka humantong 'yan doon. I want to anticipate. I always try to see what is going to happen down the road para hindi tayo nagugulat," he said.
(We might end up with that. I want to anticipate. I always try to see what is going to happen down the road so that we will not be caught off guard.)
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is expected to reconvene on September 7 to continue its investigation on the PS-DBM's questionable transactions with Pharmally.