MANILA—Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Friday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for defending the government's purchase of supposedly overpriced COVID-19 medical supplies worth billions of pesos.
Speaking to Teleradyo, the senator said the President seemed to have forgotten his vow of firing officials over a “whiff of corruption".
"Eh hindi na nga ito whiff lang. Parang umaalingasaw na. Pero parang hindi na lang 'yung sense of smell ang naapektuhan kay Presidente pati yata mathematical ability," she said.
(This is not just a whiff but more like stinking. However, the President's sense of smell and mathematical ability are also affected.)
In his second public address this week, Duterte said the personal protective equipment and other medical supplies procured by his administration in response to the pandemic was not overpriced.
"Were the purchases of mask overpriced? Iyon ang tanong. Ang sagot is no, they are not,” he said in a taped speech Thursday night.
Duterte said the masks were procured below the suggested retail price at that time, despite the “high demand” as countries raced to secure supplies.
State records show that the face masks were bought at P27 each and PPE sets at P1,900 from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. Other companies offer the supplies for as low as P13 and P945, respectively.
Pharmally, which was only incorporated in September 2020, bagged P8.7 billion worth of contracts for medical supplies.
In response to Duterte's justification, Hontiveros questioned President's arithmetic.
"Ano naman ang nangyari sa arithmetics ni Presidente?" she said.
(What happened to the President's arithmetic?)
"Wala naman silang COVID pero bakit itong 'di lang whiff kundi alingasaw ng corruption ay parang binabalewala nila?" she added.
(They don't have COVID but how come they are ignoring this not only whiff but stinking corruption?)
On Wednesday, Hontiveros bared that the 2 officials of Pharmally were wanted for alleged fraud, embezzlement and stock manipulation in Taiwan.
She also found out that the names Rose Lin at Gerald Cruz were both incorporators of Pharmally Biological Inc and Full Win.
Full Win’s Philippine arm is chaired by Michael Yang, who was Duterte’s former economic adviser.