Talk to the People (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday said he is willing to face Senator Richard Gordon in a public debate if the latter would challenge him.

In a prerecorded Talk to the People, Duterte called Gordon a “thief” anew for his alleged involvement in corruption in the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which the senator chairs.

“If you want to engage me in a debate in public, okay, I will,” he said, noting that he even knew Gordon’s case number.

A case number refers to the identification number assigned by the clerk of court to a criminal case.

“I have your case number, Mr. Gordon,” he added.

Duterte, meanwhile, mocked Gordon for supposedly spattering while talking.

Kaya kung magpunta kayo sa mga rally nandiyan si Gordon, magdala kayo ng payong (That’s why if you attend rallies where Gordon is present, bring an umbrella),” he said.

Duterte has repeatedly assailed Gordon for carrying out probes into alleged irregularities in the government's procurement of Covid-19 supplies at the height of Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

In an episode of The President’s Chatroom aired on Sunday, Duterte encouraged senatorial aspirant and former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque to “replace” Gordon in the Senate.

He said Gordon and other senators interrogated his Cabinet officials for hours, wasting time that should otherwise have been used at work.

Duterte has long insisted that the government's purchase of medical supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. is in accordance with Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1).

He added that Congress was aware of the provision in Bayanihan 1 that authorizes the government to buy emergency supplies without the need to comply with procurement laws. (PNA)