Drilon wants next Congress to wrap up Pharmally probe, scrap DBM procurement service

Drilon wants next Congress to wrap up Pharmally probe, scrap DBM procurement service
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon presents tax records submitted by the Bureau of Internal Revenue to the Blue Ribbon Committee on October 28, 2021.
Screen grab / Senate of the Philippines YouTube page

MANILA, Philippines — Minority Floor Leader Sen. Franklin Drilon said that those who will be part of the 19th Congress should wrap up the investigations related to the multi-billion peso deal between Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. with the Philippine government.

He also pushed for the abolition of the procurement service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). 

"Sa akin po, dapat tapusin 'yung Pharmally. Iyon po ay nakabitin. Unless magkaroon na committee report na may papasa ng kasalukuyang senado ay iyan po ay nakabukas at nakabinbin sa susunod na Senado po iyan. Dapat ituloy po iyan," he said in a Thursday interview with Cignal TV's One PH in response to a question on what should the 19th Congress focus on. 

("For me, they should finish the Pharmally probe which is left hanging right now. Unless the current Senate releases its committee report, this will be carried over and will be pending in the next Senate.")

Earlier this year, the Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon, released a 113-page partial committee report which detailed the findings on the probe on the Pharmally probe. 

The partial report recommended that charges may be filed against President Rodrigo Duterte for the "betrayal of public trust", after he appointed foreign national Michael Yang—  earlier identified as a Pharmally's financier and guarantor to Chinese suppliers— as an economic adviser to the president in 2018, discredited the Commission on Audit and Senate, and barred his officials from attending the Senate hearings, among others. 

Duterte is immune from suit as president. 

The report also suggested to file several criminal and administrative charges against two former officials of the DBM's procurement service, namely Christopher Lao and Warren Rex Liong.

On Thursday, Drilon said that the PS-DBM should be scrapped, adding that it is not an example for other government offices to follow. 

The investigation on the Pharmally contracts began after the COA flagged that P42 billion was transferred to the PS-DBM from the Health department without supporting documents. 

Duterte has since then accused senators of using the pandemic supply deals to gain publicity. 

In February, he brushed aside the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon panel's partial report, but said his administration would not do anything to jeopardize the people's trust. 

Last year, senators said Pharmally may have made what they called as ghost deliveries of face masks, face shields and personal protective equipment amounting to at least P3 billion in 2020. — Angelica Y. Yang







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