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Opinion

Plundemic prosecution

LOOKING ASKANCE - Atty. Joseph Gonzales - The Freeman

Listening to the hearings being conducted in the Senate, with outraged Senators Drilon and Pangilinan leading the braying pack, the horrifying conclusion that the Filipino people were (and are) being systematically raped by goons in the government is solidifying.

It’s not like the “normal” corruption we have come to expect from our government agencies, where functionaries high and low extract their pound of flesh before any transaction can move forward. We’re so blasé about that already, people don’t even bat an eyelash when parasites move in and start sucking away.

But this in-your-face pillaging, in the midst of an economic shockwave, while ordinary citizens are reeling from the impact of lockdowns, loss of lives and livelihoods, and medical fearmongering --this takes the cake. And take the cake, all the whipped cream and rich butter, the conspirators did.

We hear revelations such as P280 million in awarded contracts in just the span of five days to Pharmally, a company with almost no cash. Why would we entrust P280 million to an unqualified bidder? How could the government award the contracts to an entity that didn’t meet a basic qualification?

In a normal government bidding process, a bidder who doesn’t have the papers to back up a commitment to deliver automatically gets disqualified. The government doesn’t even open the disqualified bidder’s envelope to see what the proposed numbers and shows it the door. So why did our government goons keep entertaining Pharmally? (Wink wink)

And in a span of several months, those contracts are reported to have ballooned to billions. That’s billions, not chump change. Here we see Pharmally just bidding left and right, winning contracts and signing deals, in the months that followed. Why the reliance on this supplier? What’s in it for the procuring government agency? (Wink wink).

The Senate is ferociously plugging away at the Pharmally executives and Michael Yang, hoping they’ll implicate each other or maybe, even cough up names. Given their penchant for evasiveness, though, we probably will not get any more ammunition for plunder charges. What the Senate can do, however, is to keep on sniffing around the bid processes.

Which Department of Health or Department of Budget functionary signed on the signature page of the contracts? Who initialed those contracts? Which underling signed off on the requirements and ticked the checklist prior to the contracts being finalized and printed for signature? All of these actors should be subpoenaed and grilled, their every pore scrutinized. And that includes their bank accounts and their lifestyles.

And of course, follow the money! Wire transfers have destination accounts. Physical checks have to be deposited. Sniff and scratch some more, dear Senators, and we might just see the government side of this scandal surface.

I hardly need to describe them as vile characters who’ve taken advantage of this nation at its lowest point, who’ve had no compunction about the deaths happening left and right, and the hardships suffered by those still living. It is self-evident that they have shown no conscience, but only plenty of greed and cold-bloodedness. Their only goal was to make a quick buck while the conditions were ripe (or rotten, depending on how you look at it) at the expense of their fellow Filipinos.

I’m still grieving, almost every week, for friends who have succumbed to COVID-19. The revelation of this systematic plunder does nothing to salve the pain of all those losses.

For their role in this dark moment in history, their rewards should be slow and merciless. But will justice ever arrive? Will the Senate be able to follow through and have the inner fiber or the political stomach to push through prosecutions and, more importantly, convictions?

In this country, the jury is still, and has always been, out on that.

GOVERNMENT
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