Roque: President bought only "cookies"
MANILA - Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte and his long-time aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go for having the time to check out luxury watches at a high end store in Makati amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gordon made the statement during the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the controversial Pharmally deal, likening Duterte and Go's shopping to the pharmaceutical firm's executives who bought luxury cars after they finalized multibillion-peso contracts with government.
Go is a member of the chamber's Blue Ribbon Committee.
"Dumurugo na ang puso ng bayan, kumita na sila, may kotse na sila… ang gaganda at mamahalin. Mayroon po tayong tinatawag sa civil code: conspicuous consumption in times of crisis. May krisis po tayo, nakuha pa nila bumili," Gordon said.
(The hearts of the people are bleeding. The Pharmally officials already got their money, they had luxury cars. We have what we call in the civil code as conspicuous consumption in times of crisis. We have a crisis and yet they were able to do this)
"Parang inyong Presidente at saka si Secretary (sic) Bong Go noong matapos sila mag-file ng candidacy, hindi ko maintindihan bakit sila nagpunta sa isang gusali na nagtitinda ng mamahaling relo, doon sa isang mamahaling department store," he added.
(It's like what your President and Sen. Go did over the weekend when they finished filing the candidacy. I can't understand why they went to an expensive store selling luxury watches.)
Duterte and Go went to Greenbelt mall in Makati after the latter filed his certificate of candidacy as vice president for the 2022 elections. Photos showed them passing through the luxury watch lane.
The lawmaker asked the two if they had any shame left as thousands of Filipinos suffered due to the lingering health crisis.
"Wala na ba tayong budhi mga kaibigan? Di ba natin nalalaman na nahihirapan na ang mga tao, pupunta pa tayo sa lugar na marangya, ang nakakabili lang eh 'yung mga may pera, hindi natin alam saan galing," according to Gordon.
(Don't we have any shame? Don't we understand that many are suffering already and then we will go to this expensive store where only people with money could go?)
But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there's nothing wrong about doing "a sidetrip to a mall," and also questioned why this has been framed in the wrong way.
He said the President made no purchase of a luxury watch.
"President Duterte went around personally checking how businesses are faring with the re-opening of industries and the economy. PRRD stayed for a few minutes and bought cookies – not a high-end watch, as one senator maliciously implied," the statement read.
He added that Duterte "has worked tirelessly" amid the pandemic and would see to it that the country recovers in the remaining days of his term.
Gordon has been vocal in criticizing Duterte for allegedly defending individuals being investigated by their panel over the purchase of supplies from private firm Pharmally to combat COVID-19.
Duterte has blasted the panel’s conduct of the hearings, calling them a “waste of time,” and also threatened to "find out what’s wrong with" the lawmakers.
The President's former economic adviser, Chinese businessman Michael Yang, has been linked to the allegedly dubious deals.
Video from the Senate of the Philippines