Duterte orders SolGen: Tell COA to collect ₱140M in govt funds from Gordon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered the Solicitor General to tell the Commission on Audit (COA) to collect ₱140 million in government funds from Senator Richard Gordon as the lawmaker allegedly misused it when he was the chairperson of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SMBA).

Duterte said the COA issued a notice of disallowance for ₱140 million to SBMA under Gordon’s leadership, but the senator allegedly pocketed ₱86 million.

“I am now asking the Solicitor General to formally ask COA to act on the disallowance and remind them of their constitutional duty to collect the ₱140 million as stated in the demand letter of SBMA chairperson and administrator [Wilma] Eisma dated August of this year. This has been duly sustained by the Supreme Court as final and executory,” Duterte said in his public address aired Monday night.

The chief executive also claims the senator has yet to settle the issue.

“How many years have passed? Ngayon hindi mo pa nabayaran…The case is actually disallowance ang tawag n’yan sa COA. 'Pag hindi mo nabayaran within the period demanded of you then it becomes your personal liability, and the case goes to the Ombudsman. Ang tawag n’yan malversation. You malversed the money,” Duterte said.

[Translation: How many years have passed? You still have not paid. The case is actually disallowance as what the COA calls it. If you are unable to pay within the period demanded of you then it becomes your personal liability, and the case goes to the Ombudsmand. It is called malversation. You malversed the money.]

“Mr. Gordon, you are appearing all white because you have painted everybody black there... What now? Please answer me,” he added.

Gordon is the chairperson of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that has been investigating the Duterte administration’s purchase of medical supplies for pandemic response.

Last week, Duterte threatened to file a case against Gordon for allegedly failing to return the funds.