VP bets support charges over Pharmally deal but stress draft report yet to be discussed in plenary

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
VP bets support charges over Pharmally deal but stress draft report yet to be discussed in plenary
Pharmally director Linconn Ong in a September 24, 2021, Senate blue ribbon hearing confirms the validity of a photo that shows him meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte and his former economic adviser Michael Yang. Ong used to work as Yang's translator.
Screen grab / Senate of the Philippines YouTube page

MANILA, Philippines — Senators Vicente "Tito" Sotto III and Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan have expressed support in filing charges against those involved in the controversial Pharmally deals for the supply of overpriced medical supplies. 

Sotto, however, stressed that the draft report containing the findings of the Blue Ribbon Committee on the Senate's investigations on the issue still have to be discussed in the plenary.

Both senators are vying for the vice presidency in this year's elections. 

"If cases will be filed against the perpetuators, we need to respect the process of the criminal justice system. Our countrymen can be assured that we will not tamper with the process. Those who are at fault must answer for what they did," Pangilinan said in Filipino during the CNN Philippines Vice Presidential Debates held Saturday.

Pangilinan is one of the members of the Blue Ribbon Committee who signed the partial probe detailing the Senate's investigations into the questionable deals between Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., 

Sotto, who echoed his fellow senator's sentiments, said people found guilty in the anomalous deals should face charges. 

He earlier denied allegations that he was forcing members of the Blue Ribbon panel to sign the partial probe, saying that he would "resign and shoot himself in Luneta" if these are proven. 

"I have never done that. We leave it to the discretion of the members. Any member or any senator signing a committee report can say with reservations or [say], 'I dissent'...It's up to them," Sotto said during the debate.

He stressed that the partial probe is a draft committee report, which is different from a Senate committee report that contains the full findings of the Upper House's investigations into the issue.

"[This] draft committee report will have to go through plenary and in plenary, that is when we pass it [and] we debate on it so we know who to file charges against," Sotto said. 

The partial report, shared by the office of Blue Ribbon Committee chairperson Richard Gordon, called for the deportation of former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang for his role in the controversial deals, among other criminal violations. Yang was earlier identified as Pharmally's financier and guarantor to Chinese suppliers.

The report also suggested that President Rodrigo Duterte may face charges for his role in the controversy. 

"After all, he was the one who appointed all the people who approved these transactions and aggressively protected and defended them when they were caught in this horrible crime against our people," the 113-page partial report said. 

During the event, CNN Philippines said it would have asked Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, the running mate of presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao, for his thoughts on the issue but Atienza begged off from the debate since he had to undergo knee replacement surgery.

The CNN Philippines debate featuring the platforms of the vice presidential bets was held at the University of Sto. Tomas. The network will be holding its presidential debate on Sunday.





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