MANILA - Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chair Sen. Richard Gordon on Friday said he was not offended by President Rodrigo Duterte's "mukhang pera" comment, but noted that the remark was "not really presidential."
Duterte earlier said "mukhang pera" (greedy for money) while Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was announcing that the PRC has resumed COVID-19 swab testing after the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) partially settled its P1.1-billion debt with the organization.
"I'm not offended. I think the President should really be careful. Minsan hindi niya alam that the statement is not really presidential," Gordon told reporters in an online press conference.
The PRC chair said he harbors no ill feelings towards the President, but blamed Health Sec. Francisco Duque III for possibly giving the chief executive a wrong impression about the largest COVID-19 testing organization in the Philippines.
"I think he (Duterte) was misled by the statement. The way the predicate was laid out by Sec. Duque was wrong... Sabi niya, 'Nagtest na ulit nung binayaran,'" the senator said.
Gordon said that this was not the first time Duterte insulted him in public.
Last year Duterte said Gordon was a "fart away from disaster" after the senator noted that the President has a penchant for appointing former military officials in his Cabinet.
Duterte called to apologize for the comment, the senator said.
"Tumawag nung birthday ko. [Sabi niya] 'Happy birthday, Dick. Nabigla lang ako. Kalimutan na natin 'yun,'" he said.
(He called on my birthday and said, "Happy birthday, Dick. I just spoke in haste. Let's forget that.)
The PRC will continue to work with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) and the government despite Duterte's remark, Gordon said.
"I will focus more intensely on the problem at hand," he said.
"I've learned to check my temper, but it doesn't mean that I'm not gonna fight people who are unfair," he said.
As of November 5, PhilHealth has already paid P700 million to the PRC, but has yet to settle some P377 million in debt, according to data from the Red Cross.