MANILA – Pharmally's Krizle Grace Mago may have been pressured to retract her admission to the Senate that her employer "swindled" the government when they sold supplies to the latter for its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Monday.
“Kung mayroon mang nagpe-pressure sa kanya, yan siguro ay isang napakamakapangyarihang pwersa para lang bawiin ang kanyang mga naunang sinabi sa amin,” Hontiveros said in a statement to media.
(If anybody is pressuring her, it must be a very powerful force for her to retract her initial statements to us.)
Appearing earlier in the day at a hearing by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on her company's transactions with government since last year, Mago, said, “Regarding my previous statement that 'I believed we swindled the government', it was a pressured response."
"Given the level of pressure I was under and the rush of emotions associated with the allegations and my subsequent admission, I was not in the best frame of mind to think clearly," she added.
She agreed as well with a lawmaker who likened the questioning of her at the Senate to interrogation by government agencies and even crime syndicates.
“It is sad that Ms. Mago feels this way. Telling the truth is a relief. The greatest pressure is to lie,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros was the senator who moved to place Mago under the upper chamber’s protective custody following her statement on the government’s alleged anomalous transactions with Pharmally.
The Senate lost contact with Mago on Sept. 26. She showed up to House lawmakers on Oct. 1.
Hontiveros said that despite the latest development, she still hopes the truth will come out.
“Naniniwala akong lalabas at lalabas ang katotohanan. Sana lang, sa huli, manaig ang kanyang konsensya.”
(I still believe that the truth will eventually come out. I just hope that, in the end, her conscience will prevail.)
President Rodrigo Duterte has favored the probe conducted by the House of Representatives, which essentially found no irregularities in the government's procurement of supplies from Pharmally, contrary to the findings at the Senate.
Duterte had also denied there was overpricing, as alleged by some senators, as he maintained that the deals were above board.
Some senators questioned the awarding of billions of pesos-worth of contracts to Pharmally despite having only less than a million pesos in paid-up capital.
They suspect that Pharmally was favored because of its links with Davao-based businessman Michael Yang, a former economic adviser of Duterte.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that is conducting the probe, had said that public funds wasted on anomalous transactions could have been used for the benefits of health workers who are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines.