MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday threatened that he will "extract" officials that will be detained by the Senate in connection with its investigation into corruption in government.
In a recorded public briefing, Duterte ripped Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon anew over the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's investigation on Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., a company that supplied the government with allegedly overpriced anti-virus masks and face shields worth billions.
The President told government officials being investigated to leave Senate hearings led by Gordon, who is the chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee, in connection with Pharmally's alleged anomalous contract with government.
"'Wag kayo pumayag na sigaw-sigawan kayo ni Dick Gordon. Just stand up and go out. I said if the (Senate) sargeant-at-arms i-detain ka, then once I hear about it, I will go to the Senate and get you, extract you," Duterte said.
Last week, Gordon, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and other senators issued an arrest warrant against Chinese businessman Michael Yang, a former adviser of Duterte, for evading questions on government’s purchase of reportedly overpriced personal protective equipment through Pharmally.
The Senate also moved to detain Pharmally Pharmaceuticals executive Linconn Ong after earning the ire of lawmakers when he said he has to check with his accountants on the amount they paid their suppliers.
Duterte has defended Pharmally, which was incorporated only in 2019 with a P599,000 capital but was awarded P8.6 billion in government contracts when it had no track record of delivering quality and reasonably-priced materials.
Lawmakers earlier bared a 2017 Malacañang video that showed Yang introducing the President to Pharmally officials.
Duterte said he has known Yang, a Davao-based businessman, for around 20 years. He said he tapped Yang when he initially "made contacts with the Chinese."