MANILA - Senator Richard Gordon said Wednesday even the Office of the Ombudsman was "compromised" as President Rodrigo Duterte had appointed someone linked to those involved in the mismanagement of pandemic funds.
Gordon said Duterte appointed Warren Liong after he dismissed Melchor Carandang as Overall Deputy Ombudsman in November last year.
Before his appointment, Liong was a director at the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Services (DBM-PS). His former boss, Christopher Lao, was chief of the budget department's procurement service when Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. won P8.6 billion in government contracts for face masks and COVID-19 test kits even if it was only incorporated in 2019 and only had a capital of about P625,000.
"If the Ombudsman is worth its salt right now, makakagalaw ba yan. Napaka-difficult ng situation, 'yung kasama dyan sa PS-DBM (Department of Budget and Management procurement service) number 2 Ombudsman sa buong Pilipinas ngayon: si Liong," he told ANC's Headstart when asked if the Ombudsman should investigate government's overpriced procurement of medical supply.
"See that’s why it's compromised because naglagay ka ng tao na kasama nitong si (Christopher) Lao na taga-Davao."
A fraternity brother of President Duterte, Lao was a member of Duterte's campaign team before being appointed to government. The President said Lao also assisted his office with legal matters when he was still mayor of Davao City.
"The point is kung sa kalaban ng presidente (if you're the President's enemy), the deck has been stacked," Gordon said.
The senator, however, said Ombudsman Samuel Martires could conduct a "quiet investigation."
"Dapat nanonood siya dyan, tinitingnan niya and ginagawa niya ang tungkulin niya pero nakikita ko ngayon he must skirt around Liong, he must be conducting a quiet investigation. Is he? Dapat tanungin niyo yan," he said.
(He should be watching the hearings and doing his job but I can see that he must skirt around Liong, he must be conducting a quiet investigation. Is he? You should ask him.)