Senate blue ribbon panel unshaken by Duterte threats; will pursue Pharmally probe – Drilon

Published September 12, 2021, 2:05 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday, Sept. 12 said he can only conclude that President Duterte wants to take revenge on the senators who are investigating the questionable P8.86-billion deal between the Department of Budget and Management’s procurement service (DBM-PS) and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

Drilon made this assumption after Duterte threatened to stop all government transaction with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), where Sen. Richard Gordon is chairman.

Gordon heads the Senate blue ribbon committee which is now investigating the alleged overpriced COVID-19 pandemic supplies that the Commission on Audit (COA) had flagged in its 2020 audit report.

Duterte, on the other hand, told Drilon to explain his ties with pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. He also questioned the veteran lawmaker about his ties to former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog and retired police general Marcelo Garbo, Jr. whom the president linked to illegal drugs.

“Nakakalungkot na sa halip na ang pinag-uusapan natin kung paano mapapanagot ang nangyaring premeditated plunder o plinanong pandarambong sa kaban ng bayan, pinupukol kaming mga senador ng iba’t ibang intriga at allegations na walang katotohanan (It’s sad that instead of discussing how we can prosecute those involved in premeditated plunder, we senators are accused of various intrigues and allegations that are not true),” Drilon said in an interview over Radio DZBB.

“Hindi ko alam kung bakit, siguro dahil mainit na ang ulo. Siguro gusto niya ring gumanti sa amin (I do not know why, maybe he is getting irate. Maybe he also wants to take revenge on us),” he said.

“Hindi naman iyon dapat. Ang ating hinahanap ay katotohanan, walang personal dito (But that should not be the case. We are looking for truth, nothing personal),” he said.

Drilon reiterated the issues against him by the President are already old news.

“Yung kay Napoles, wala namang naisapampang kaso laban sakin, walang katotohanan. Si Jed Mabilog, kamag-anak ko pero may lumabas bang ebidensya na nag-uusap kami sa droga? Si Gen. Garbo, iyan ay dating regional director ng Region 6 siguro mahigit isang dekada. Anong relasyon ko ron (On Napoles, not one case was filed against me, there was no truth to it. Jed Mabilog is a relative but has there any evidence that we discussed anything about drugs? Gen. Garbo is a former regional director in Region 6 for more than a decade. What is my relationship with him)?” he pointed out.

But even after the President’s threats and tirades against them, Drilon said the Senate blue ribbon committee has no plans to stop its investigation on the alleged anomalous transactions of the government.

“Wala po akong kapangyarihang itigil. Ito ay utos ng Senado. Ang makakapigil lang dito ay Senado mismo (I have no authority to stop it. This is the Senate’s mandate. The only one that can stop it is the Senate itself),” he stressed.