SEN. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go called on Sen. Richard Gordon to inhibit himself from any investigation involving Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, citing conflict of interest.
He pointed out Gordon, who is also the chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), signed a multi-million deal with PhilHealth last year and demanded an advance payment of P100 million.
In a privilege speech delivered on Tuesday, August 31, Go expressed concern over the committee's investigation into the handling of the Covid-19 funds, noting Gordon heads the PRC which entered into a multi-million-peso memorandum of agreement with PhilHealth early on in the pandemic.
"Hindi ba may conflict of interest na isa sa iniimbestigahan mo ay ka-transaksyon ng organisasyong pinamumunuan mo? Nagtatanong lang ... Dagdag pa nga diyan, hindi ba disadvantageous sa gobyerno at against the law ang paghingi ng advance payment? (Is it not a conflict of interest that one of those being probed has a transaction with the organization you are the head? I am just asking...added to this, is it not disadvantageous to the government and against the law if you ask for advance payment?)," he said.
"In the spirit of fairness and impartiality, shouldn't the Blue Ribbon Committee Chair inhibit himself from further hearing all matters involving PhilHealth? I will not present any conclusions here without due process and fairness. Tinuturuan ako ng tama at kailanman ay magiging patas ako. Sana naman maging patas rin kayo (I was taught to do things the correct way and to be fair always. I hope you are also fair)," the senator added.
Go's outburst was triggered by what he called the unequal treatment shown by Gordon to his colleagues.
"Malaki ang respeto ko sa inyo noon pa. Palagi akong nagpapakumbaba sa inyo, kaya siguro ang trato mo sa akin hindi kapwa senador. Kahit sa mga hearings ... ang trato mo sa akin parang resource person lang na pwede mong barahin habang nagsasalita. Other senators were accorded the privilege to have an opening statement in the hearings. Bakit ako kailangan mag-stick sa topic na gusto mo? (I respect you. I always humbled myself before you, and maybe this is the reason why you did not treat me as your fellow senator. During hearings, you treated me as a resource person you can stop from talking anytime. Other senators were accorded the privilege to have an opening statement in the hearings. But why do I have to stick to the topic you want?)," he said.
Go on Wednesday said he is ready to face investigation should a complaint be filed against him with the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
"I respect this institution I belong to and I hope fairness and due process will always be upheld in these halls," the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography said.
He made the remark amid reports some senators plan to file a complaint against him before the Ethics Committee for his alleged links to Lloyd Christopher Lao, former head of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).
Senators alleged there was an organized plunder at the PS-DBM in the awarding of deals on the purchase of medical supplies worth P42 billion for the Covid-19 response of the Department of Health (DoH).
Gordon said the DoH did not monitor how the P42 billion was spent.
"Kaya kung may magfile man ng reklamo laban sa akin sa committee on ethics, rerespetuhin ko naman ang desisyon ng mga kapwa kong senador (If a complaint should be filed against me before the committee on ethics, I will respect the decision of my peers)," Go said.
"Kung gusto nila akong imbestigahan, imbestigahan po nila. Wala naman akong itinatago. Wala rin akong kinatatakutan dahil alam kong wala akong ginawang mali, lalo na pagdating sa disorderly o unethical behavior na sakop ng komiteng iyan (If they want to investigate me, they can investigate me. I am not hiding anything. I have nothing to fear because I know I did nothing wrong, particularly disorderly or unethical behavior under the jurisdiction of this committee)," he added.
Go earlier said he would resign if they found him guilty of corruption.
However, he stressed the Blue Ribbon panel should show fairness given its crucial role in investigating corruption.
"Tulad ng bilin sa akin ni Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte, kung may nakikita akong mali, magsasalita ako. Mapapaisip ka talaga dahil sa hearing sila na ang nagtatanong, sila ang nag-iimbestiga, sila rin ang sumasagot, sila na rin ang huhusga at gagawa ng konklusyon (President Duterte has always reminded me, if I see anything wrong, I should speak out. Come to think of it, during the hearings, they're the ones asking questions, they're the ones doing the investigation, and they are also the ones giving the answers to their questions. They are the investigators and judges and they come out with a conclusion. I know this is not a judicial court, but it does not take a lawyer to figure out you cannot be judge, jury, and executioner all at the same time)," Go said.
He pledged his commitment to support the fight against corruption, as shown by his participation in several inquiries including those on the alleged corruption in PhilHealth and the Bureau of Corrections.