Duterte sending ‘mixed signals’ on anti-corruption drive, says Robredo

Vice President Leni Robredo is questioning the integrity of President Duterte’s supposed anti-corruption drive amid the possibility of premeditated plunder in his administration involving billions worth dubiously purchased medical supplies during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Vice President Leni Robredo and President Rodrigo Duterte (FILE PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)

“The President has been sending mixed signals as far as ‘yung (his) claim nya na (that) corruption is one of the flagship programs when he was campaigning,” Robredo said on ANC’s “Headstart” on Monday, Sept. 6.

Robredo emphasized that such allegations of corruption did not only happen during the pandemic.

“Kahit naman (Even) before the pandemic there have been a lot of officials already who have been embroiled in corruption scandals na tatanggalin tapos malalaman natin nalipat lang pala sa ibang posisyon (that they will remove but end up being transferred to another position). And now, para sa akin, etong (for me, this) corruption scandal during the pandemic ito talaga ‘yung (this is really) very frustrating,” she added.

“Ang dami nating kababayan na namamatay, nagkakasakit, ang daming nawawalang trabaho, ang daming nagugutom, bakit nangyayari ito (A lot of our countrymen are dying, getting ill, many are losing their jobs, many are going hungry, why is this happening?),” Robredo asked.

She can’t help but agree that the fiasco could be a “premeditated plunder” because of the timeline of the establishment of Pharmally Pharmaceuticals and the fact that it was a small company with low capitalization that bagged P10 billion worth of government contracts.

READ: Drilon: Procurement of grossly overpriced PPE is 'premeditated plunder'

Although admitting that her basis was only what she read and what she heard from Senate hearings, the Vice President noted that anyone can “connect the dots.”

Christopher Lloyd Lao was the former head of the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) and the former aide of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go when the latter was still the Special Assistant to the President. Lao is also Duterte’s fraternity brother.

Lao was the one who signed the purchase order worth billions of pesos from Pharmally, a company registered only in September 2019 or six months before the start of the pandemic.

“In the height of pandemic bagong organisa na kumpanya, napakababa ng (a newly organized company, with a very low) capitalization, wala ibang (with no other) economic activity other than kontrata sa pamahalaan (the government contract). Again, ang question natin, bakit (our question is, why)?” Robredo asked.

“Kung ito lang yun pagbabasehan and ikokonect natin ‘yung dots, talagang napakalakas ng pakiramdam na pinagplanuhan (If this is the only basis and we will connect the dots, the feeling is really that it was planned),” she added.

But the Vice President clarified that she doesn’t “sit in judgment of them” and that all she has expressed was her impression from the Senate inquiry.

The “best way to respond to the investigations” is to face the congressional inquiry, she stressed.

READ: Drilon to Pharmally officers: Face Senate probe if you have nothing to hide