MANILA — Sen. Richard Gordon denied Wednesday that he recommended charges against 2 Cabinet secretaries of the previous administration to take the heat off of allies of President Rodrigo Duterte who are facing corruption allegations related to PhilHealth.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Gordon recently recommended technical malversation charges against former Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad and former Health Secretary Janette Garin for allegedly diverting P10.6-billion in PhilHealth funds “to finance the 2016 elections.”
The report “reads like a cover-up and damage control for Mr. Duterte and his men in PhilHealth,” who were recently accused of pocketing P15 billion in public funds, said Sen. Leila De Lima.
“What can I expect from Senator De Lima? She’s very bitter,” Gordon said of his colleague, who has been jailed since 2017 on drug charges she said were fabricated by Duterte’s administration.
Gordon said he has not seen Duterte “for the last 2, 3 years.” He said he had also criticized killings under the current administration, the death penalty revival pushed by the President, his attacks against the Catholic church, and his use of profanity.
“Wala naman akong hinihingi kay President Duterte… Ang dami niyang position na ayaw ko,” Gordon told ANC.
(I’m not asking anything from President Duterte. He has many positions that I dislike.)
“Kayo (you find), guilt by association. I don’t do that. I find guilt based on evidence,” he added.
Gordon noted that he also supports “with reservations” a separate Senate report that recommended criminal charges against current PhilHealth officials.
The senator's allegation of fund diversion is an "absolute lie”, Abad said last week.
"I can only conclude that the release of this report is maliciously timed to confuse the public and distract them from the real PhilHealth scandal," he said.