Is it a bad thing to be called an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, who came into power with a 91% public trust rating?
It seemed so for Senator Richard Gordon, who reprimanded a Senate reporter for calling him a “known Duterte ally” in her news story. Gordon made sure he set the record straight, as he maintained that he was an “independent” senator.
The senator called the attention of the reporter during an attempt to interview him.
“Why do you keep on saying I’m an ally of the President? Am I PDP-laban? Am I?” Gordon said, referring to Duterte’s political party.
“Who’s the first one to attack Duterte? Me, right?” Gordon added, in an apparent reference to his criticism of the President’s “noisy” demeanor.
Asked by the reporter if that means he was denying that he’s a Duterte ally, Gordon said: “I’m a senator. I’m independent.”
He did not mention it during the interview but Gordon also earlier said that the country’s tourism slogan should just be, “Welcome to the P.I.,” referring to the initials of the favorite cuss words of the President because of his tendency to hurl expletives at his critics in public addresses.
Gordon’s criticisms, however, came only recently. Of the 24 senators, it was Senator Antonio Trillanes IV who first attacked Duterte. This started as early as the 2016 campaign when Trillanes accused the then presidential candidate of owning a bank account not declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth.
Gordon is a member of the Bagumbayan-Volunteers for the New Philippines, which he himself established. But in the Senate, he is part of the so-called “supermajority.”
Gordon had replaced Senator Leila de Lima, Duterte’s fiercest critic, as chairman of the committee on justice and human rights. In a vote of 16-4, De Lima was ousted days after she presented witness Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed hitman of the Davao Death Squad, who accused Duterte of ordering killings when he was city mayor.
After 6 hearings, Gordon terminated the hearings on the summary executions, saying the committee found no proof that link Duterte or the state to the killings. He said there has been no evidence so far of the existence of the DDS. (READ: Senate ends probe: Neither Duterte or state sanctioned extrajudicial killings)
Gordon also earlier proposed that Duterte be granted emergency powers, with the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus – which is synonymous to martial law. (READ: Gordon wants emergency powers for Duterte, suspension of habeas corpus) – Camille Elemia/Rappler.com