Gordon hits Duterte anew for supposedly defending Pharmally deal personalities

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2021 06:37 PM

MANILA — Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte anew for supposedly stooping so low just to defend officials involved in allegedly anomalous deals with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. 

At the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Pharmally's transactions with government, Gordon said he is still puzzled why Duterte kept on defending his former economic adviser Michael Yang and former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, his fraternity brother.

"Di pa rin masagot ang mga katunungan (We still cannot answer the question), why does the President have to lower his dignity to go and defend the people he appointed?… Bakit hindi matanong ng Pangulo si Mr. Lao? Instead na iniimbestigahan niya kung paano nagsinungaling si Mr. Yang," said Gordon, who chairs the committee. 

(Why can't the President ask Mr. Lao or have Mr. Yang investigated?)

Senators earlier said the procurement service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM), then headed by Lao, may have favored Pharmally either due to its alleged ties with Yang or because several officials may have been profiting from kickbacks.

Sen. Franklin Drilon had noted that Pharmally, which only had less than a million pesos in paid-up capital, bagged at least P10 billion worth of deals since last year to supply the government items to be used in combatting COVID-19.

A government video shows Duterte meeting Pharmally executives, including Linconn Ong, with Yang in attendance, in Davao City in March 2017, regarding the company's possible business activities in the country.

The Senate probe had also yielded such other information as tampering with the supplies purchased by government.

Duterte had denied the allegation of overpricing of supplies from Pharmally, and maintained that the deals were above board.

"Masama na kayo ang nagpapaliwanag... Lalong masama na parang katulad ng ginagawa niyo dati, iniiwas niyo ang ilaw ng katotohanan at dinadala niyo sa kadiliman, lalo ang mga kababayan niyong Pilipino," Gordon said, addressing Duterte.

(It is already wrong that he is explaining for them. What's worse is he is diverting the light of the truth and dimming it instead for the Filipino people.)

"I will just simply call you a defender of the liars, at ang kapatid o ang nagsisinungaling ay kapatid ng magnanakaw… Pasensya na po kayo. Pati ba naman yung ibang tumutulong na nga sa administrasyon niyo magpabakuna, nagpapa-test… ay pati iyon ay sisiraan niyo nang walang humpay."

(The brother of a liar is a thief. I am sorry, but why do you have to criticize those helping your government in the vaccination and COVID-19 testing efforts?) 

Duterte earlier alleged that the Philippine Red Cross, chaired by Gordon, erred multiple times in conducting COVID-19 tests in the Philippines. 

The President also denounced the panel's supposed ill-treatment of Ong, who had since been placed under detention for purportedly being evasive in answer senators' questions and for refusing to speak in an executive session.

Duterte described the Senate probe as useless, just as he threatened to "find what’s wrong with" the lawmakers. 

Gordon had said public funds wasted on anomalous transactions could have been used for the benefits of health workers who are battling COVID-19 in the frontlines. 

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