MANILA (UPDATED) - Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday said his department is prepared to issue an immigration lookout bulletin (ILBO) order against around 8 people in connection with a Senate probe on how Department of Health funds on the COVID-19 pandemic were spent.
He didn't say, however, if this directly involves former presidential adviser Michael Yang or executives of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. who were ordered arrested by senators for giving "evasive" answers when questioned about alleged involvement in the questionable procurement of pandemic supplies by the firm.
Guevarra initially said "the DOJ will issue an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against anyone upon receipt of a proper request from a person in interest, more so from a co-equal branch of government" but said he has not yet seen an official request for Yang.
Pressed for more details, he said "there is an ILBO ready for signing.
"But I will not see it until tomorrow. I think 8 persons are named therein," Guevarra told reporters.
"Not sure about their involvement in or connection with Pharmally, but the request came from the Senate."
Guevarra confirmed the upper chamber's request was "in connection" with its inquiry.
"The Senate inquiry involves Pharmally, among others, but I’m not sure about the respective connection of these 8 individuals to Pharmally (if they are officers, employees, etc)," he clarified.
Senators Risa Hontiveros and Richard Gordon later confirmed the watchlist order will be for Yang, who complained of high blood pressure he said he had because of the Senate hearings he attended.
“The doctor really said he should go 5-day bed rest,” his legal counsel Raymond Fortun said.
Sen. Franklin Drilon said the watchlist order should be issued to make sure Yang will stay in the country.
Fortun said his client is willing to defend himself in front of the senators. The Senate's next hearing regarding Pharmally and the former presidential adviser will be on Friday, Sept. 17.
Yang, a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte, claimed earlier in a Senate hearing that he did not have anything to do with Pharmally.
The company, which supplied face masks, face shields and other medical equipment to the government, is facing allegations that its goods were overpriced.
It bagged contracts from the Procurement Service division of the Department of Budget and Management despite that it only had a paid-up capital of P625,000 in 2019.
Duterte has criticized senators conducting the probe into Pharmally and insisted that there was nothing anomalous in the DBM deals. He also defended Yang.
Senators, however, have said that the Senate "will not flinch" in its investigation into the allegedly anomalous deals.
— Reports from Mike Navallo and Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News