MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte is "not a president the Filipino people can respect," Sen. Richard Gordon said Friday as he castigated the chief executive for defending officials allegedly involved in the anomalous procurement of COVID-19 pandemic supplies.
"Mahirap kayo tangkilikin (It is hard to patronize you), Mr. President, because you do not act like a president," said Gordon, who heads the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
"Nobody talks to you in international conferences because nauuna 'yung reputation ninyo na mapagmura, mapusok at talagang sinasabi ninyong, 'Kill, kill, kill,'" he said.
(Nobody talks to you in international conferences because your reputation of being rude, brash and advocating for "kill, kill, kill" precedes you.)
"Today I tell you, you are not a president the Filipino people can respect," he said.
Gordon's statement comes days after Duterte started lambasting him in public speeches after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee began grilling former Presidential Economic Adviser Michael Yang and former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, the president's former election lawyer, over allegedly shady deals involving state funds.
Yang and Lao are among those being linked to the allegedly anomalous procurement of overpriced pandemic supplies.
Duterte, in his taped addresses, said he would actively campaign against Gordon, and called for the senator's resignation as head of the Philippine Red Cross.
Duterte also called Gordon a "despot", repeatedly mocked the senator for being fat, and threatened that he would let a vampire suck the blood out of the lawmaker.
Gordon said he pities Duterte and called the President a "cheap politician."
"I am really sorry for you, Mr. President. Ang pinagtatanggol ninyo si Lao dahil may utang na loob kayo sa election? You are a cheap politician," the senator said.
(You keep on defending Lao because you have a debt of gratitude because he helped you during the elections? You are a cheap politician.)
"You need prayers. Nag-aral kayo sa Catholic schools pero parang wala kayong natutunan," he said.
(You studied in Catholic schools but it seems you did not learn anything.)
Gordon also belied Duterte's allegations that he has been using the Senate investigations as a platform to boost his plan to run for higher office in the 2022 national elections.
"Malamang hindi na ako tatakbo sa totoo lang. Ayoko na. Wala ho akong plano ngayon," said Gordon, who earlier said he may take a second shot at the presidency.
(Most likely I will no longer run. I don't want to anymore. I don't have any plans.)
Minority senators lauded Gordon for his "brave" statements against the President.
"My admiration and congratulations to Sen. Gordon for the courage he has shown. Mabuhay kayo," Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.
"We thank you Sen. Gordon for your courage and we thank you for your zeal in addressing what I call massive corruption," Sen. Francis Pangilinan added.
Gordon said his family is worried over his decision to butt heads against Duterte, but thanked his wife and children for not stopping him from doing his job as a public official.
"These are times when courage must come out with what is happening," he said.
"I hope our kababayans who are watching will find it in their hearts to see the truth."
Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go - Duterte's decades-long aide - came to the defense of the President, saying the Blue Ribbon hearings have become a "political circus."
"Imbis na magdebate po tayo dito sana ay magtulungan na lang po tayo lalo na't nasa gitna po tayo ng pandemya... Sana po wag natin haluan ng pulitika ang laban kontra COVID," he said.
(Instead of debating here, we should just help each other especially we are in the middle of a pandemic... I hope we do not mix politics with the fight against COVID-19.)
Go also belied accusations that Duterte has been trying to protect Yang and Lao from the chamber's investigations.
"Mabait si Pangulong Duterte sa mga gustong tumulong pero hindi po namin ugali na magbigay ng pabor sa mga kaibigan o sa mga negosyante dahil hindi kami nakikinabang kahit kailan," he said.
(President Duterte is nice to those who want to help but it is not in our nature to give favors to friends or businessmen because we never benefitted from anyone.)
"Ako mismo witness dito at narinig ko na sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte kay Michael Yang na, 'Kapag gumawa ka ng kalokohan, gumawa ka ng ilegal, pumasok ka sa droga, ililibing kita dito sa Davao,'" he said.
(I witnessed and heard the President telling Michael Yang, "If you're involved in anomalies, if you do something illegal, if you get involved with drugs, I will bury you in Davao.")
Go ended his statement by vouching for the President's integrity, saying he would stand by the chief executive despite all allegations from other senators.
"I believe in the President, and I will sink and swim with the President."