Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday, Sept. 7 questioned President Duterte on his supposed “direct engagement” with an official of Pharmally International, the head agency of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. which is now being investigated by the Senate blue ribbon committee.
Hontiveros noted there seems to be a “special friendship” between Duterte and Huang Wen Lei, chairman of Pharmally International and who is now a fugitive in Taiwan.
According to the senator, Duterte and Huang’s ties was featured in a 2017 article by Taiwan-based newspaper China Times.
“May ibang special friendship na naman ba? Kasi noong 2019 lang nag-incorporate ang Pharmally sa Pilipinas (Is there another special friendship? Because it was only in 2019 that Pharmally got incorporated in the Philippines),” Hontiveros said prior to the continuation of the Senate blue ribbon committee’s hearing on the controversy surrounding the government’s procurement of overpriced PPEs from the company.
“Pero nang nagka-COVID noong 2020 ay sa Pharmally agad ibinigay ang pinakamalaking kontrata. Ito bang ugnayan na ito ang dahilan kung bakit napakabilis ng transaksyon ng Pharmally sa gitna ng pandemya (When COVID hit us in 2020, they gave the biggest contract to Pharmally. Is this the reason why the government was able to easily transact with Pharmally amid the pandemic)?” Hontiveros asked.
She said the China Times article stated that Huang and another shareholder of the company, Wang Mingliang, and other core executive, visited the Philippines and it was Duterte who made special arrangements.
She said the article also noted that they all “met at the Davao Hall and invited the director of Drug Administration and the Deputy Minister of Health to attend the meeting.” The article also then said that the “closer cooperation between the two parties” would “create a win-win situation.”
Hontiveros said the article is backed by a photo which shows the President together with Huang, Michael Yang, who is the chairman of the Philippine-based Full Win company.
Yang is also said to have closed links to another fugitive Zheng Binqiang, the chairman of the China-based Full Win Group.
The Senate blue ribbon committee has issued an arrest warrant against Yang after failing to attend the Senate hearing.
“That meeting includes a curious cast of characters. Masyado naman yatang malapit ang Pangulo sa mga taong may tagilid na track record sa serbisyo (It seems the President is close to people who have dubious track record). Duterte supposedly has the best and the brightest on his side,” she pointed out.
Pero bakit parang malalamya ang katabi nya sa picture na ito? Wala na ba syang pakialam kung makita siya ng lahat na nakikisalamuha sa isang taong ‘wanted’?,” the senator said.
“Walang kailangang ikabahala ang mga kawani na nananatiling tapat sa serbisyo. Kung seryoso ang Pangulo na puksain ang korapsyon sa gobyerno, hayaan nyang gumulong ang proseso namin sa Senado (Those who are trusted public servants have nothing to worry about. If the President is serious about eradicating corruption in government, they should allow our processes here in the Senate to run),” Hontiveros said.
“Huwag nyang gawing hobby na ipagtanggol ang Pharmally sa mga press briefings niya (He should not make it a hobby to defend Pharmally in his press briefings,” she stressed.