Blue Ribbon report on Pharmally deal: Duterte betrayed public trust

By HANA BORDEY, GMA News

Published February 1, 2022 7:04pm

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has found that President Rodrigo Duterte betrayed the public trust in connection with his actions related to the government’s multi-billion-peso contracts with Pharmally Corp.

According to a five-page executive summary, the committee recommended plunder, graft and other criminal and administrative charges against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, former government officials, and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation executives.

The committee said Duterte betrayed the public trust, in violation of his oath of
office under the 1987 Constitution by:

appointing Michael Yang, a foreign national, as “Economic Adviser to the President” in 2018. Yang then introduced numerous Chinese suppliers with whom the government transacted and in the process enriched himself immensely;
accepting that an undercapitalized corporation owned by a Taiwanese fugitive, and with proven ties to Michael Yang, had dominance over pandemic procurement of COVID-19 supplies;
seeking to discredit COA, whose Constitutional duty it is to conduct an audit of all government expenditures, and which had previously flagged the anomalous transaction, and through threats, prevent it from functioning;
trying to discredit the credibility of the Senate by publicly attacking, maligning, and disrespecting the Senate as an institution, a co-equal branch of government, and its members duly performing their duties, and in doing so attempting to render inutile the Senate’s role in investigating corruption;
ordering the issuance of a patently illegal memorandum preventing his cabinet members and other officials of his administration from attending the hearings; and
refusing to run after his appointees despite calls from the public and the Senate to compel their attendance, in order to further the search for truth,; failing to hold accountable these appointees for one of the biggest plunders of the Philippines’ coffers in recent history.

“The most troubling question remains – why was the President so quick to defend those closest to him once their names were linked to the anomaly and then so eager to discredit the Senate investigation, prevent his appointees from cooperating, and absolve them of any liability?” the report read.

“Why the massive attack and offensive based on false and unfounded accusations against a co-equal branch of government that was merely doing its job to protect the country not only from the unseen enemy that is COVID- 19, but also from perfidious enemies from within who deprived, for the sake of a greedy few, the Filipino people of the protection and succor that they needed during the most trying time of their lives,” it added.

“Unfortunately, based on the President’s own behavior, one cannot help but conclude that he was aware of, allowed, and condoned,” the report read.

In the partial committee report released by the office of Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the blue ribbon, the panel said Duque violated Section 2 of Republic Act No 7080 or the Plunder Law.

Others who were found in violation of the law were former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang, former Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM) officer-in-charge Atty. Christopher Lloyd Lao, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Warren Rex Liong, Pharmally executives Linconn Ong, Mohit Dargani, Twinkle Dargani, Krizle Grace Mago, Huang Tzu Yen as well as Chinese businessman Lin Weixiong.

The same names along with DBM official Dickson Panti should also be charged with violations of Sections (e) and (g) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the report indicated.

GMA News online has sought the comments of Duque, Yang, through his legal counsel, and Pharmally officials, through their media relations officer but they have yet to respond as of posting time.–LDF, GMA News

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