MANILA - Health Secretary Francisco Duque and a former Department of Budget and Management official are "culpable" over the "planned plunder" in government's overpriced medical supply procurement last year, Senator Franklin Drilon said Thursday.
Duque's authorization of the transfer of P47.5 billion in health department funds to DBM's procurement service (PS-DBM) was the beginning of the "grand corruption," Drilon said. PS-DBM was then headed by former Undersecretary Christopher Lao.
"First it was Secretary Duque who authorized the transfer to DBM without a memorandum of agreement that allowed Undersecretary Lao to do the shenanigans he appears to have been done. I will suspect that all of this is planned scheme from the very start to commit this grand corruption," Drilon told ANC's Headstart.
"Secretary Duque by his act of transferring these funds is principal by an indispensable cooperation because without his action this could not have happened. I can see the culpability of Secretary Duque and Undersecretary Lao."
The senator said Lao had admitted to him that he did not conduct due diligence in awarding the P8.68 billion worth of government contracts to Pharmally Pharmaceuticals.
"All I will say is that Pharmally was favored. It doesn’t require much intelligence to realize if you only have a P625,000 paid up capital, common sense but more important due diligence would have told you should not award supply agreements worth P8.7 billion in a span of two months to this company," he said.
Drilon likened corruption in government to COVID-19 variants mutating.
"The (Senate) Blue Ribbon (Committee) has discovered there is a new variant called ‘planned plunder’. It is a virus that’s spread all over the bureaucracy," he said.
"You hear about the pastillas, commissioners who extorted P50 million, corruption in the Customs. It mutates, you see it in the bureaucracy as you examine."
The Senate will "not be distracted" following Malacañang's allegations of overpriced purchases during the Aquino administration, Drilon said.
"Secretary Harry Roque, you act like a troll but you should be man enough to know that when a P625,000 company [is] awarded supply contracts of over (P8.7) billion in 2 months' time there's a whiff of corruption that you should be man enough to admit merits an investigation," he said.
"That was 5 years ago, sir. We’re now in 2021. There is no COA (Commission on Audit) report of questionable transaction so please, we will not be distracted and we’ll get to the bottom of this."