Duterte defends going to luxury-watch store; Palace says nothing wrong with ‘side trip’

Lady Vicencio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2021 05:27 AM | Updated as of Oct 07 2021 07:34 AM

MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he went to a luxury-watch store over the weekend to meet a former girlfriend, a visit he has had to defend in the face of criticism.

"Pinuna mo ’yung pagpunta ko sa tindahan. Pagpunta ko sa tindahan kasi may gusto akong makipagkita ko sa isang tao, girlfriend ko noon. Hiwalay na kami. Pumasok kami roon," Duterte said, referring to Sen. Richard Gordon, who called out the President and Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go for the mall jaunt.

(You find fault in my going to the store. I went there, because someone wanted to meet me, an ex-girlfriend. We've separated. We entered the store.)

"Gusto ko lang mamasyal. Pumasok kami sa jewelry stores, totoo 'yun. Totoo 'yun nagtingin ako ng mga relo. Sino ba ayaw ng relo na magaganda?" Duterte added.

(I wanted to walk around. We walked inside jewelry stores, that's true. It's true I looked at the watches. Who doesn't want a beautiful watch?")

Duterte, without evidence, has repeatedly tied Gordon to the P86-million priority development assistance fund (PDAF) that Gordon allegedly gave to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

"Every time magkita tayo, the last time you were wearing Rolex. Parang gold. Hindi ako nagnakaw ng relo. Ngayon, pumunta akong tindahan. Kayo ang nagnakaw sa gobyerno ng P86 million," he said.

(Every time we see each other, the last time you were wearing Rolex. It looked like it was gold. I did not steal a watch. I just went to the store. But you stole P86 million from the government.)

Gordon on Tuesday slammed Duterte and long-time aide 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.

Duterte and Go went to Greenbelt mall in Makati after Go filed his certificate of candidacy as vice president for the 2022 elections. Photos showed them passing through the luxury watch lane.

But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there's nothing wrong about doing "a side trip 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 and just bought some cookies.

Since last month, Duterte has been relentlessly going after Gordon, who began to lead a Senate inquiry into the administration's pandemic transactions, including the procurement of allegedly overpriced anti-virus masks and face shields from private firm Pharmally.

This included grilling former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang and former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, Duterte'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.

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