Duterte gets back at Gordon over ex-military appointees: ‘Mind your big belly’

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, August 1, slammed Senator Richard Gordon for criticizing what he said was his "prerogative" to appoint former military men to government positions.

"Ano ba ang problema niya? Eh mas gusto ko sa military," Duterte said in a speech during the Bureau of Fire Protection's 28th founding anniversary. (What's his problem? I prefer military [men].)

Duterte said he took exception to Gordon's recent remarks following the suspension of some of the gaming operations of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) due to "massive corruption."

Duterte's suspension order came months after the firing of retired general and PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan in March over "serious allegations of corruption."

Asked about the order, Gordon had said maybe the President should not appoint military men to government positions.

"Ang tanong niya sa akin, ano daw ang nakita ko sa military. Well, one, sabihin ko sa 'yo, I can move faster with honesty. Mahirap maghanap ng tao na honest ngayon," Duterte said on Thursday.

(His question for me is, what do I see in the military? Well, one, I'll tell you, I can move faster with honesty. It's hard to find honest people nowadays.)

He added: "Do not be too presumptuous about your talent. Why do you criticize me? It's my prerogative. It is not prohibited by law. And the law says that the president shall be, kung may tulong siya sa mga taong Cabinet member (if he gets help from Cabinet members), it doesn't say except those who are ex-military men because they are not qualified."

Duterte also responded to Gordon's remark that the President appoints military men because he is from the province and does not know a lot of people in Manila.

"Pero kung ako ang presidente at pupunta ako ng Maynila magtrabaho dito, maghanap ako ng tao. Kung si Gordon lang naman ang makita ko, mag-resign na lang ako [sa] pagkapresidente." (If I'm the President and I go to Manila to work and look for people, if Gordon is all I'd see here, I'd rather resign as president.)

"You know, I think 'yung sabi niyang probinsyano ako, sa bagay totoo 'yan. Pero, at least, probinsiyano ako, my brain stays in my head. 'Yung utak mo, Dick, natutunaw, napupunta diyan sa tiyan mo. You are a fart away from disaster. Intindihin mo muna 'yung tiyan mo bago ka makialam sa trabaho ko," he later said.

(You know, I think his remark about me being from the province, to be fair, that's true. But at least I'm from the province, my brain stays in my head. Your brain, Dick, dissolves and goes to your belly instead. You are a fart away from disaster. Mind your belly first before interfering with my job.)

The President's sudden blanket verbal order stopping operations of all PCSO gaming formats in order to curb "massive corruption" had been widely criticized. Duterte has since lifted the suspension of lotto operations.

Lotto operations are computerized and automated, unlike small town lottery or Peryahan ng Bayan where insiders say most of the corruption takes place.

On Thursday, Senator Panfilo Lacson alleged that retired generals were the ones who pocketed the multi-billion small town lottery revenues. – with reports from Pia Ranada and Aika Rey/Rappler.com