Delay in the submission of needed documents has stalled the probe of the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) on the alleged anomalous deals of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation with the government, Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires said.
The OMB’s investigation on Pharmally’s transactions with the government started last Aug. 12, Martires said.
“While the Senate and House are investigating, we are also investigating,” he said.
Martires said his office then asked several agencies, particularly the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), to provide documents needed in the probe.
However, he lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic and the strict health protocols make it hard for his office to secure the needed documents.
“Some of them cited their skeleton workforce for asking an extension. While other agencies said they are busy with the House and Senate probes,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday night, Oct. 26.
There have been congressional inquiries into Pharmally’s deals with the government. Specifically, the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee has an ongoing legislative inquiry.
Among other issues, Pharmally was accused of supplying “overpriced and substandard face masks, face shields and other medical equipment” to the government.
The OMB, under Republic Act No. 6770 which created it in 1989, has the power to cite in contempt anyone who will deny copies of documents needed in its investigations.
RA 6770 grants the OMB the power to ask government agencies “for assistance and information necessary in the discharge of its responsibilities….”
The law states that “any person who willfully obstructs or hinders the proper exercise of the functions of the Office of the Ombudsman or who willfully misleads or attempts to mislead the Ombudsman, his Deputies and the Special Prosecutor in replying to their inquiries shall be punished by a fine of not exceeding Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00).”
The OMB is mandated under RA 6770 to act “promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against officers or employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and enforce their administrative, civil and criminal liability in every case where the evidence warrants in order to promote efficient service by the Government to the people.”