Senator Richard Gordon welcomed on Monday, October 4, calls for government officials to cooperate with the Senate’s ongoing probe into the procurement of medical supplies and equipment for the country’s COVID-19 response.
Gordon, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said he is taking heed of the appeal to pursue their investigation to the fullest extent of the law and ferret out the truth behind the alleged anomalies in the government’s COVID-19 response.
“Our business, church, academe, and medical leaders have spoken up. We have to heed the advice of these major organizations and personalities. Like them, it is also our foremost resolve to get to the bottom of these anomalies and hold erring individuals accountable for their sins to the Filipino people,” Gordon said in a statement.
“We all owe it to our people, especially our healthcare workers, who have suffered long enough during this pandemic. The Senate will not renege on its duties to uncover the facts based on the evidence presented to us,” he vowed.
On Sunday, several business groups and universities issued a statement calling on the government to conduct their proceedings with “integrity, transparency, and respect, and in compliance with our laws and established procedures.”
“Our frontiners and the Filipino deserve a full and fair accounting,” the group said.
Gordon maintained that he and other senators afford resource persons with due respect and courtesy when invited to explain their role in the government’s procurement transactions.
“We respect Cabinet members asked to appear before the Senate, including those executives of companies involved in these transactions. I expect all resource persons to speak the truth and not hide behind their lies and evasive answers,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also welcomed the support for the upper chamber’s legislative inquiry.
“We need the cooperation and support of every sector of society in the Pharmally investigation,” Drilon said in a text message.
Senator Francis Pangilinan also said that local businesses have long been lamenting the preference given by the administration for foreign firms amid the pandemic.
“Mas pinapaboran pa ang mga Chinese na kumpanya at mga suppliers kaysa sa local industries (The administration has been favoring Chinese companies and suppliers over local industries),” Pangilinan said.
“Sa halip na unahin ang ating mga kababayan na mga manufacturers, inuna ng DBM-PS ang mga importer. Nawalan tuloy ng libo-libong trabaho ang Filipino habang bilyon naman ang kita ng dayuhan at mga kasabwat nitong mga kaibigan ng Malacañang (Instead of prioritizing local manufacturers, the DBM-PS favors importers. Thousands of Filipinos lost their jobs while foreigners and their cohorts in Malacañang have earned billions),” he added.
President Duterte earlier said that he will order members of the executive branch not to attend the Senate hearings. He also directed the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines not to cooperate with the Senate in implementing its orders.
During their marathon hearings, senators grilled the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS) for awarding over P8.6 billion in contracts to Pharmally Pharmaceutical in the COVID-19 response procurement deals despite its questionable financial, technical and legal capacity.
For instance, the government, through the DBM-PS, purchased face masks from Pharmally at P27.50 per piece, double the price offered by a local manufacturer.