Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon on Tuesday received negative criticisms after his live national television interview where his manner of answering queries was perceived to be “rude” by online users.
The lawmaker, who is also the head of non-government organization Philippine Red Cross (PRC), was interviewed about mass testing efforts on overseas Filipino workers on “Unang Balita,” a segment on GMA News’s morning program, “Unang Hirit.”
PRC, based on reports, conducted majority of the country’s COVID-19 testing efforts at 45% while private organizations came second at 21%.
In the televised interview, GMA news anchor Connie Sison brought up the “criticisms” against the cost of COVID-19 test through the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Gordon previously said that individual walk-ins and companies needed to pay P4,000 to avail of RT-PCR test.
The senator clarified in the interview that such a test only costs P3,500.
He added that in testing OFWs, they encounter problems in encoding which he claimed is not under PCR’s jurisdiction.
Gordon said that he cannot blame anyone since he claimed they are all having a challenging time amid the global health crisis.
When Sison attempted to conclude the interview with her last question, the senator butted in and accused the news anchor of failing to listen to him.
“Can you listen to me, please? Kasi parang hindi ka nakikinig. Parang, kwan tayo, I’m sorry, I just had to be very frank,” Gordon said.
Sison was taken aback but the senator continued as if he did not hear her.
“Importante ang mga sinasabi namin, no? Na dapat maintindihan ng tao. Dapat ang maintindihan ng tao, we have to test and there’s payment because ‘yung China, sinisingil tayo niyan, ‘yung mga testing kits, sinisingil tayo niyan,” Gordon said.
“Tinataas pa nga nila, gusto nila ngayon, bibili ka ng 20,000 to 30,000 test kits. Magkano isa, 15 dollars to 18 dollars. Multiply niyo. Milyun-milyong dolar na ‘yan,” he continued.
The senator defended the government’s mass testing efforts amid reports of stranded OFWs in quarantine facilities waiting to be cleared by authorities.
Sison told him, “Sir, this is the reason why we’re actually getting your side, para mas maplantsa…”
“There is no side! Excuse me, there is no side!” Gordon blurted out.
Sison then changed the term she used, “side,” into “opinion” but the senator went on and expressed his sentiments against being compared to entities conducting a COVID-19 “high-speed test.”
“No, no! Don’t tell us na meron kayong… pagsasabungin kami,” Gordon said.
Sison later on told him to have a “good morning” but Gordon rebutted that they are already “tired.”
The interview was recorded by some viewers who criticized the lawmaker for his perceived “rude” and “unprofessional” conduct on national television.
Dick Gordon's attitude is horrendous. As usual, being a dick. Being true to his name. Nakakagalit. MAS PAGOD KAMI! It really shows that no matter how well-educated a person is, entitlement is not a good look on anyone. Treat people w respect. Fucking unprofessional. Disgusting! pic.twitter.com/Bb8e0nWaPt
— Kerwin King (@imkerwinking) May 26, 2020
A Twitter user also wrote: “Dick Gordon’s interview right now with Unang Hirit is one of the most unprofessional things I’ve ever listened to. Hindi excuse ‘yung pagod na sila sa Philippine Red Cross para maging mapanumbat siya.”
“That was a live interview. People wanted answers to their questions and concerns. Kaya sila nagtatanong is because hindi sila aware sa sistema. Anong mahirap sa mag-eexplain ka ng ginagawa niyo without showing your frustrations?” the online user added.
Another Filipino commended Sison and urged other online users to make her name trend on the microblogging platform instead of Gordon’s.
The senator’s name landed on local Twitter’s top trending list on Tuesday morning following the interview.
— bhossphilyo (@Redphilyo) May 25, 2020
Code of Conduct for public officials
As a public official, Gordon is obliged to abide by Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees which states that they must exhibit their duties with “integrity” and utmost professionalism.
The law specifically notes that public officials must observe the following norms of conduct in executing their duties which may include appearing in public interviews broadcasted on television or radio. The standards are:
- Commitment to public interest
- Justness and sincerity
- Political neutrality
- Responsiveness to the public
- Nationalism and patriotism
- Commitment to democracy
- Simple living
The provision on “professionalism” particularly states that “public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill.”
“They shall enter public service with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. They shall endeavor to discourage wrong perceptions of their roles as dispensers or peddlers of undue patronage,” it added.
Public officials are also supposed to “provide information of their policies and procedures in clear and understandable language” and “ensure openness of information,” among others, under the provision on the “responsiveness to the public.”
“Public officials and employees shall extend prompt, courteous, and adequate service to the public,” the provision added.