Drilon: Duterte should heed doctors’ plea for transparency in Pharmally probe

Published October 12, 2021, 10:29 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday urged President Duterte to heed the call of the country’s medical experts and former health secretaries “not to obstruct” the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation into the anomalous transactions involving the government’s procurement of COVID-19 medical supplies.

Drilon is referring to the “collective expression of indignation and a call to action” released and signed by 300 past and present members of the Philippine College of Physicians and other medical professionals.

The group called on the President to allow key government officials and other personalities who are material witnesses in the investigation to testify before the Senate panel during its hearings regarding the questionable contract between the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS) and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

“The whole nation is watching. I call on the Executive to listen to the people and heed the call,” Drilon said in a statement.

“May prescription na po ang mga doctor (The doctors have their prescription): let’s follow the doctors’ prescription and allow an unimpeded Senate investigation into the PS-DBM anomalous transactions,” he stressed

“I laud and fully support the call of our frontline medical doctors. I thank the members of the medical profession for supporting our efforts in the Senate to ferret out the truth in the PS-DBM – Pharmally transactions,” the minority leader added.

Drilon noted that both the members of the legal community and the medical profession have voiced out their support for the Senate’s investigation and called out the President’s directive.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has also issued a statement urging the President to reconsider his order.

The President had earlier issued a memorandum prohibiting Cabinet officials from attending the Senate probe on the government’s procurement of allegedly overpriced pandemic supplies last year from Pharmally.

Drilon called the order “unconstitutional” citing Supreme Court jurisprudence on the Senate v Ermita case where the SC ruled that the appearance of invited resource persons in Congressional hearings is mandatory especially when it is in aid of legislation.

He was Senate President when he brought the case to the Supreme Court in 2005 after then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued the controversial Executive Order (EO) 464 to prevent executive officials, cabinet members, and military officers from appearing before the Senate inquiry into the anomalous North Rail Project.