Senate ignores Duterte gag order, probe on 'overpriced' COVID-19 supplies to continue -Gordon

Published September 15, 2021, 8:52 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Because of continued attacks by President Duterte on senators, Senator Richard J. Gordon on Wednesday September 15 said the Senate would dig deeper into the connections of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said their investigation would not slow down because Pharmally, with a paid up capital of only P625,000, was able to get contracts worth more than P11 billion from the Procurement Service, Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) through negotiated biddings.

Negotiated biddings are allowed under the current national health emergency.

What is now appearing as a result of the Senate probe is that Pharmally’s contracts for the delivery of COVID-19 related medical supplies were overpriced and there are even indications of ghost deliveries, Gordon pointed out.

He had asked aloud why the President is so defensive on the Pharmally contracts and on Michael Yang, financier of Pharmally. Yang is a former economic adviser of President Duterte.

President Duterte had maintained that there was no overpricing in the negotiated contracts of medical supplies at PS-DBM which was then headed by resigned PS-DBM chief Lloyd Christopher Lao, a Davao resident.

If President Duterte is really angry at any whiff of corruption in his administration, Gordon said the Chief Executive should not criticize senators and allow the Senate to continue its investigation.

But if the President puts barriers at Senate investigations and prohibits members of his Cabinet from attending these probes, one could conclude that the President is hiding something, he added.

Gordon said he is not at all affected by the President’s ban on his Cabinet members from attending Senate investigations.

If the President really prohibits his Cabinet members, the loser is the Executive branch because it will deprive itself of a forum to explain its side and answers senators’ questions meant to clarify the issues at hand, he pointed out.