Rehearsed witness? Senators blast Mago's recantation of testimony

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 04 2021 08:31 PM

Senator Richard Gordon was almost in disbelief hearing the excuses made by Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation executive Krizle Grace Mago before the House committee on good government, Monday.

"She was under pressure, she says? but the questions posed to her were delivered in calm and very measured manners. that she recanted? what do you expect- she has been taken into the bosom of Pharmally and interests protective of the administrations' interest, no matter how vile. Nakipagyakapan na siya sa demonyo, makakawala pa ba iyan?” said Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee investigating the alleged irregularities in the government’s procurement of medical supplies from Pharmally.

Mago’s recantation of her Senate statements are perjurious, because she took an oath that she would tell the truth when she faced the hearing, Gordon says.

“Nakita mo she was very calm. She was on video. I asked her twice, she was asked by other senators, she said a definite yes, ‘I believe so’ hindi lang yes. And you know I’m not surprised, because obviously, it was all a sham. Kunwari nagtago siya, natakot siya, nag-worry pa kami sa kanya, pagkatapos kinuha siya ng mga bosses, dinala siya sa House, which is friendly to Pharmally’s interest and they’ve been defending Pharmally, they’ve been defending the President’s position,” Gordon said.

Mago’s withdrawal of her earlier statements, according to the senator, does not diminish the solidity of the evidence and testimonies that the Senate committee has able to gather so far.

“The case is very strong. It’s formidable. There’s a formidable case already built up. It can seal how they profited from it. It can seal how close Krizle Mago is to this guy Dargani, who’s in the habit of giving, buying cars that are expensive in this difficult times after a contract with the government, giving an expensive car, a most expensive car to his sister. Putting her in a corporation with his girlfriend. You can see the depravity of these people,” Gordon said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros also can’t help but frown at Mago’s claims that she was under pressure when she faced the Senate investigation.

“Pressured response? Let us remember that Ms. Mago was under oath when she was speaking before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing. Questions were only directed to her and she, in fact, answered forthrightly,” Hontiveros said.

“Kung mayroon mang nagpe-pressure sa kanya, 'yan siguro ay isang napakamakapangyarihang pwersa para lang bawiin ang kanyang mga naunang sinabi sa amin,” she added.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III meantime sees Mago as one witness with diminished credibility following her retraction.

Claiming to be answering the senators’ questions during a virtual or online hearing, is difficult to prove that there is such “pressure.”

“Masisira yung credibility niya. Kung anuman ang sasabihin nya from now on medyo magdududa na tayo. Tandaan ninyo, na yung hearing was a remote hearing, online hearing yun eh. ibig sabihin nun walang taga-Senado, o walang taga-Senate Blue Ribbon committee o walang senador na nandon sa kwarto kung nasaan sya at mape-pressure ka dahil nakaharap mo yung tao. Hindi eh. remote eh so bakit mo nasabi nung nagre-retract ka?” Pimentel pointed out.

Pimentel asked for continuous cooperation of stakeholders in the ongoing investigation.

He also thanked business and student groups for supporting the probe.

“Mag-cooperate po tayo. Kasi magtataka talaga tayo bakit merong ayaw mag-cooperate, kung ang purpose ng hearing ay ilabas ang katiwalin at kasuhan ang mga tiwali. Laban ito sa corruption bakit ayaw nating mag-cooperate. So, mailihis na naman tayo sa kwento bakit ayaw mong mag-cooperate,” Pimentel said.

Two minority bloc senators also belittled Mago’s claims of so-called pressure.

“What is a 'pressured response'? Miss Mago’s statement was spontaneous, with no trace of any pressure being exerted. The statement was on video, under oath. Note that she did not deny making the statement that the government was swindled. Her statement that 'she’s not in the best frame of mind to think clearly' is totally self-serving, and does not have any value and cannot be corroborated,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.

“Rehearsed witness ang tawag diyan. Iisa ang layunin niya at ang mga opisyal ng Pharmally at pati si Michael Yang, ang magsinungaling at magkabalubaluktot ang testimonya kahit huling huli na,” Senator Francis Pangilinan said.

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