Senator Panfilo M. Lacson on Friday September 3 turned down President Duterte’s call to the Senate not to investigate on-going programs.
‘’The Senate is composed of 24 republics. We ourselves cannot impose on each other. While we always respect the decision of the majority, we also make sure that we follow our individual convictions and beliefs, based on conscience,’’ Lacson said.
The President and several senators are on a collision course after a Malacanang appointee, resigned Procurement Service Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) chief Lloyd Lao, awarded to ‘’choice bidders’’ in negotiated biddings alleged overpriced COVID 19-related medical supplies under a P42 billion funding from the Department of Health (DOH).
Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said Lao was very evasive while Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said there was premeditated plunder in the bid awards.
The feud came to a boil when President Duterte went personal by taking potshots at the hairstyle of Lacson, chairman of the Senate National Defense committee, and Gordon being fat.
‘’I cannot see how anybody, even if he is the President of our country, can influence us especially on an issue involving public funds – and most especially in the middle of a pandemic,’’ he said.
‘’At least that is as far as I see it in my almost 18 years as a Senator of the Republic,’’ he added.
The Senate has 24 members.
When the Gordon committee resumes its public hearing next week, Lacson said he would ask the DOH on the purchase of overpriced ambulances.
Based on his information, Lacson said the ambulances, Nissan cargo vans, with automated external defibrillator (AED) ,were purchased at P2.5 million each.
But local government units bought the same vehicle without AED for P1.27 million. The price of AED is P200,000.
The DOH bought 98 ambulances and distributed them to the Calabarzon.