MANILA (UPDATE) - Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday filed a plunder complaint against Sen. Richard Gordon before the Office of the Ombudsman over alleged corruption in the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
It was the latest episode in the ongoing spat between Trillanes, an opposition lawmaker, and Gordon, a member of the majority, who had figured in tense exchanges at the Senate.
In his complaint, Trillanes accused Gordon of supposedly funneling P193 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the Red Cross, where the latter serves as chairperson, concurrent to being a senator.
This, he said, constituted conflict of interest.
“There is a very clear anomaly and/or conflict of interest in this case of Sen. Gordon making the allocation of the said funds because he has been a Governor and has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Philippine Red Cross since 2004 up to the present,” Trillanes said in his complaint.
Also named respondent was former PRC Secretary-General Gwen Pang, who Trillanes alleged had disbursed money from Red Cross funds without the required approval of the PRC Board of Governors, and funds from Gordon's PDAF without public bidding.
The funds from both the PRC and Gordon's PDAF went to anomalous projects, Trillanes alleged.
He also said Gordon has taken advantage of his position as PRC head to advance his political career, citing an anonymous email.
He also noted a formal complaint to the PRC Board of Governors filed by former PRC internal auditor and chief accountant Jeric Sian in 2013.
“Mr. Sian claims that Ms. Pang 'purchased 500,000 pieces of Plastic Whistles' for a total of P12 million with 'No BOG Approval' and 'No Public Bidding', with P1.8 million being charged to PDAF of Chairman Gordon," Trillanes said.
Sian's complaint, according to Trillanes, also cited funds spent to allegedly buy karaoke machines and baller IDs bearing Gordon's name in 2009 and 2010, when he ran for president."
The former auditor also claimed that “media placements made in favor of Mejan Inc. in the amount of more than P29 Million” were made to boost participation in the Million Volunteer Run of the Red Cross, right before Gordon ran for senator in 2013, as well as the more than P5 million spent by the PRC for its website.
Aside from plunder, Trillanes also charged Gordon and Pang with the violation of Section 14, Article 6 of the Constitution, which bars lawmakers from having financial interest "in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office."
Also filed against the two respondents were alleged violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, the Government Procurement Reform Act, violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and malversation of public funds.
In an ambush interview after filing the complaint, Trillanes said his case against Gordon is not personal as he only wants the Ombudsman to investigate the possible misuse of Red Cross funds.
“Dito ninyo makikita ang pagpapanggap, 'yung hypocrisy ni Sen. Gordon na kung mag-preach siya doon sa Senate Blue Ribbon Committee ay akala mo santo. Alam ninyo, matindi ang kasalanan ni Sen. Gordon dahil ang Red Cross ay isang institusyon na tumutulong sa taumbayan, hindi mo ito dapat pinagkakakitaan,” Trillanes said.
Trillanes earlier said he would ask state auditors and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to look into disbursements of PRC funds.
In September, the 2 senators traded barbs during the Gordon-led Blue Ribbon Committee's hearing on the P6.4-billion drug shipment from China that slipped past the Bureau of Customs.
During the hearing, Trillanes asked why senators seemed jittery when he asked that President Rodrigo Duterte's son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law, Manases Carpio, be invited for investigation. The two denied involvement in smuggling.
The opposition senator accused Gordon' of "lawyering" for the President's family and dubbed the Blue Ribbon panel as "komite de absuwelto."
Gordon, in turn, filed an ethics complaint against Trillanes.
- with reports from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News