Pharmally report can still progress via Ombudsman: Drilon

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2022 02:06 PM | Updated as of Jun 24 2022 06:59 PM

Photo composite of President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Richard Gordon. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/ Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB/file
Photo composite of President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Richard Gordon. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/ Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB/file

MANILA - The Pharmally committee report which was not adopted by the Senate due to lack of signatories, could still progress through the Office of the Ombudsman, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Friday.

Drilon said Sen. Richard Gordon, as chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, could formally lodge his penned report to the Office of the Ombudsman "as a recitation of the facts of the law as chairman (of the committee)."

The Ombudsman could also investigate the matter even without a committee report, Drilon said.

"Notwithstanding the fact that there is no committee report approved by the Senate, the Ombudsman can say, on the basis of the evidence that has presented, I find a probable cause in filing an anti-graft or malversation (charges)," Drilon said.

Drilon said Gordon's filing, should he decide to do so, could be easily substantiated by the many pieces of strong evidence.

"The committee report is not the evidence in itself. The evidence is the documents and testimony presented in the committee hearings. And the Ombudsman will now look at these evidence presented whether or not it can hold a sufficient basis, in his judgment for the filing of the case," Drilon stressed.

"The fact that the report is simply a conclusion of facts and law, on the basis of the evidence gathered. But the conclusions are the conclusions of the blue ribbon committee or of the Senate if it was adopted. But the Ombudsman can certianly make its own judgment on the basis of the same evidence," he added. 

During the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's probe on Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., a company that supplied allegedly overpriced and substandard face masks, face shields and other medical equipment to the government during the pandemic, it found several dubious details such as: 

- delays in COVID-19 testing due to failure to deliver complete RT-PCR test kits
- delivered 500,000 face masks ahead of purchase order
- Pharmally execs buying new luxury vehicles after bagging gov’t contracts
- documents on Pharmally-DBM deals 'went missing'

TRACED TO DUTERTE? 

Gordon's penned committee report alleged that President Rodrigo Duterte violated the Constitution for appointing Chinese national Michael Yang as a presidential adviser; for allegedly maligning the reputation of the Commission on Audit and the Senate, and for ordering Executive officials and employees to snub the Senate’s Pharmally investigation invitations.
 
The report also recommended the filing of charges against Pharmally executives, as well as current and former government officials who were part of pandemic-related procurement projects.
 
The report, however, failed to get the Senate adoption before its sine die adjournment early this month because only 9 of the required 11 signatories signed the Pharmally report.

At least three senators -- Imee Marcos, Sherwin Gatchalian and Juan Miguel Zubiri -- did not sign because of the inclusion of Duterte's name in the report.

Gordon was yet to comment on whether if he would submit a copy of his report to the Ombudsman, along with a request for the body's action.

"Senator Gordon has enough prerogatives to share that with the public... testimonies given by the resource persons in the course of the hearings, the documents presented. All of those can be used by the Ombudsman," Drilon said.

But in the event that Gordon files it and the Ombudsman junks the report, the senator can still elevate the matter to the Supreme Court, Drilon added.

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