Opposition Senator Leila de Lima expressed her dismay Saturday, June 4 over the archiving of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report on the investigation of multi-billion peso ‘’anomalous’’ contracts between Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation and the government amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
De Lima said that she is “sorely disappointed” at the failure of several of her colleagues in the Blue Ribbon panel chaired by Senator Richard Gordon to sign the committee report on the Pharmally probe.
“This will also let all culpable parties get away with the P11-billion heist scot-free. To let these people get away with plunder and corruption smacks of gross dereliction of duty on the part of the Senate,” she said in her dispatch from Crame No. 1265.
“That is why the Blue Ribbon committee led by Senator Dick Gordon burned the midnight oil for weeks in order for this not to happen, and so that those responsible will be held to account,’’ she stressed.
“Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the committee and its chairman, it appears that (President) Duterte still had favors to collect even as his term ends, and so was able to frustrate the release of the committee report,” she added.
The Senate under the 18th Congress ended its session last June 1 with only nine Senators, including De Lima, signing the Blue Ribbon Committee’s report on Pharmally. It fell short of two more signatures before it can be formally sponsored and discussed at the plenary level.
Notably, the report found that Pharmally sold supplies to the Procurement Service, Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) under contracts that were marred by irregularities such as substandard deliveries and expired items, “ghost” deliveries or nondeliveries, and tampered expiry certificates, De Lima pointed out.
The committee eport recommended the filing of plunder, graft, estafa and perjury charges against several former government officials and private individuals, as well as the filing of cases against Duterte himself once his term ends for failing to go after his appointees and businessmen responsible for the irregularities uncovered in the Pharmally deals.
De Lima lamented how, instead of exacting accountability, the last act of the Senate under Duterte was to continue turning a blind eye to his administration's impunity.
“This is a most sordid affair that should not have been the swan song of 18th Congress on the part of the Senate,” she said.
The lady senator from Bicol said she hopes that Senator Risa Hontiveros's plan to revive the Pharmally inquiry in the 19th Congress would bear fruit and that the next Blue Ribbon Committee chairman would be relentless in fighting corruption.
“It will surely be a test for the incoming administration insofar as its promise to fight corruption and jail corrupt officials is concerned, no matter how high up they are in the totem pole of government,” she said.
“I also hope that the next Blue Ribbon chairman is as aggressive and relentless as its last Chair has shown, given the sensitive mandate of the Committee to be the vanguard of the Senate against corruption in government,” she added.