MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte said he does not care if the Senate "crumpled" a firm under inquiry for supposedly supplying overpriced medical goods to the government when the COVID-19 crisis erupted last year.
Senators are looking into the supposed ties of Duterte's former adviser Michael Yang with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., which bagged some P8.6 billion in government contracts, including those related to the supply of supposedly overpriced anti-COVID masks and face shields last year.
The President, in a taped public address that was aired Tuesday, reiterated government's pandemic deals "were done in accordance with law, even the pricing."
"Para sa akin, tapos na kami. Iyang Pharmally ninyo, pati droga, bahala kayo, wala akong pakialam n'yang Pharmally... You can crumple Pharmally, wala kaming pakialam d'yan," Duterte said.
(For me, we are done. That Pharmally of yours and the drugs, that's on you, I do not care about that Pharmally. You can crumple Pharmally, we do not care about that.)
"Ang pakialam namin, nag-order kami, dumating, tama 'yong order, ta's ang presyo negotiated," he added.
(What we care about is we ordered, it arrived, the order was correct, and the price was negotiated.)
Duterte said Gordon, who leads the probe as chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, "has forever lost his credibility" for supposedly listening to dismissed policeman Eduardo Acierto, who linked Yang to the narcotics trade.
"[Gordon] is in cahoots with criminals and ‘yong fabricated stories," Duterte said.
"I would just like also to remind Senator Gordon na I will campaign against you for being unfit to be a senator of this republic," said the President.
Duterte said officials should get his clearance before attending the Senate probe.
In Monday's committee hearing on the Pharmally's transactions with government, Gordon said he started the probe after some nurses met with him and other fellow senators regarding their special risk allowance that was not yet released at the time.
Citing a report about the resignation of 10 volunteer doctors from the Philippine General Hospital amid the pandemic, Gordon said billions of funds supposedly wasted in the procurement of pandemic supplies could have been allotted to health workers' benefits.
"Itutuloy namin itong imbestigasyon na ito sa kabila ng pagbabanta at mga pananakot na ginagawa ngayon mismo ng ating Pangulo. Nakakalungkot, pero 'yan ang ginagawa niya. At hina-harass pa ang ibang ahensya ng mga volunteer organizations," said Gordon.
(We will continue this investigation despite the threats of no less than the President. It's sad, but he's doing it. And other agencies and volunteer organizations are even harassed.)