Tuesday’s broadcast of Unang Hirit was COVID-19 heavy — as it should be — but it took one bizarre phone patch interview to make it a top-trending topic on Twitter.
The interview, which was conducted by Connie Sison, was with Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, who is also the chairman of the Philippine Red Cross.
The exchange began smoothly as the two spoke about the swab tests being done by the government and whether the PRC can meet the deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte on the release of COVID-19 test results of OFWs who up to this day remain in quarantine facilities.
“Alam mo ang Red Cross up to date. Matagal na kaming up to date. Lahat ng tinestest namin pinapadala namin sa Coast Guard, DOF (Department of Finance) at tsaka BOQ (Bureau of Quarantine). Ibig sabihin nakalagay na dun kung negative o positive. Ang problema hindi nila napapadala,” Gordon said.
Gordon clarified that the PRC is just there to conduct testing and that swabbing is being done by government agencies.
“Kami tiga-test lang kami. Ang taga-swab gobyerno. Pagkatapos dadalhin nila ‘yung kanilang mga data, alright? Dapat ‘yun encoded properly. Nahuhuli ko minsan sa encoding, nagkakamali-mali sa encoding. Pagdating dito sa amin, hindi namin tatanggapin kung mali pero may nakalusot, maraming nakalusot,” he said.
Gordon made it clear that he is not blaming these agencies as they are new to this system, saying: “Ayoko sisihin ang Coast Guard, ang laki na ng pagod ng mga iyan, lahat ng mga nasa gobyerno, pati DOH (Department of Health) pagod lahat ‘yan. Pero sistema ang inaayos.”
Later in the interview, Sison asked Gordon whether he thinks a mass testing in the country can be done. You may remember that Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque drew flak last week after saying in a press briefing that the government has no program yet for mass testing.
“Ano ba ang hindi magagawa? Kung gusto maraming paraan. Ang machines natin ngayon automated. Hindi naman nila kasalanan ang binili ng gobyerno nung araw pa, lahat ng secretary dapat nakahanda ‘yan, ang binili nila hindi automated kaya matagal,” Gordon said.
Sison also asked Gordon about the P4,500 fee being charged by the PRC for every COVID-19 test. Gordon made a clarification: “Hindi naman 4,500 eh. 3,500 ang test, sinungaling ang nagsasabi niyan. ‘Yung 4,000 kung can afford ka pumunta ka doon, i-swab ka namin pero babayaran mo ‘yung pag-swab, ‘yung paglagay nung iyong encoding. Bakit ako susunod sa kanila. Sumunod sila. Kung ayaw nilang magpatest wala akong pinilit diyaan kahit na gobyerno. Wala akong inimbita kahit na local government.”
Sison followed up: “So P3,500 ang halaga pero ‘yung proseso daw po kailangan pa silang pumunta sa PhilHealth para magpa-reinburse, baka pu-pwedeng daw pong mas mapagawang madali? Ano ho ang reaksyon niyo dyaan?” to which the senator responded by saying, “Alam mo walang magaling dito e. Ang PhilHealth nag-iingat baka mademanda sila eh.”
“Iniimbestigahan nga sila dahil ang nakalagay sa kanila budget 8,000 ang test na gagawin nila. Naintindihan ko sila e. Baka [may] magpatest uli kung magkaroon ng positive later,” he added.
Just before ending the 8-minute long interview, Sison said she had one final question to the senator.
Gordon, sounded annoyed, tried to dis her: “Can you listen to me, please? Kasi parang hindi ka nakikinig. Pawang kuwan tayo. I’m sorry, but I have to be very frank.”
Sison politely asked, “Ano po iyon?”
“Importante ang mga sinasabi namin no, na dapat maintindihan ng tao. Dapat maintindihan ng tao we have to test and there is payment because ‘yung China sinisingil tayo niyan,” said Gordon. “‘Yung mga testing kits, sinisingil tayo niyan. Tinataas pa nga nila. Gusto nila pag bumili ka ng isang machine ngayon, bibili ka ng 20,000 to 30,000 test kits. Magkano isa nun? 15 dollars to 18 dollars. I-multiply niyo, milyong-milyong dolyar na ‘yan.”
Sison, who kept her cool, responded, “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 said, cutting off Sison who was explaining that she was just asking what the Filipino people wanted to know. “No, no! Don’t tell us na meron kayong pagsasabungin kami.”
“Alright, Senator. Naku, magandang umaga naman ho naman sa inyo,” Sison said, to which the senator responded with, “Hindi, pagod na kami!”
“Thank you so much for your time, Senator Dick Gordon,” Sison said.
Online, netizens were quick to slam the senator for how he conducted himself during the interview. Some pointed out how it was “unprofessional” of him to jump all over Sison when it was his job to answer the question. They also gave Sison high marks for handling the entire situation with composure.
“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. F*cking unprofessional. Disgusting!” wrote a Twitter user.
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
Another one said: “Would like to commend @CONNIEsison for professionally handling an interview with Senator @DickGordonDG. That is not an acceptable behavior during an interview, especially for a public servant. It is so unbecoming.”
“Be like @CONNIEsison with professionalism in this world full of unprofessional DICK Gordon! 💙✨ You can’t really learn and buy respect!” wrote another Twitter user.
Would like to commend @CONNIEsison for professionally handling an interview with Senator @DickGordonDG. That is not an acceptable behavior during an interview, especially for a public servant. It is so unbecoming. pic.twitter.com/lRT3x0GkHB
— Vincent (@Vinchoyyy) May 25, 2020
Be like @CONNIEsison with professionalism in this world that full of unprofessional DICK Gordon ! 💙✨ You can’t really learn and buy respect!
Miss @CONNIEsison really living its values as Kapuso! 💙 Soooo much respect to GMA (home of the greatest journalists) ! 💙✨
— Jerven Charles Nietes Antivola (@JervenCharles) May 26, 2020
Watch the full interview below: