Gordon: Partial report 'just the beginning' of accountability
MANILA - The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's initial findings recommended criminal charges against Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. and government officials, as well as businessman Michael Yang over transactions they supposedly got into with the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Senator Richard Gordon's opening statement at the resumption of the hearings Tuesday, he said cases should also be filed against Yang, President Rodrigo Duterte's former economic adviser.
Gordon said proposed charges against the Chinese businessman would result in his deportation and classification as an "undesirable alien".
The Senate committee's initial findings alleged that Yang, former budget Undersecretary Christopher Lloyd Lao, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Warren Liong, and Pharmally's executives violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The committee also alleged that Pharmally's Krizle Grace Mago and the firm's secretary and treasurer Mohit Dargani committed estafa.
Lao and Liong also allegedly committed fraud, according to the Senate committee. Liong was a former director at the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (PS-DBM).
Yang, Pharmally's Linconn Ong, and Mago, meanwhile, also allegedly committed perjury.
Meanwhile, Liong, PS-DBM employee Melvin Ian Tanquintic, and retired agency officer Jorge Mendoza, allegedly falsified public documents under the Revised Penal Code, the initial findings said.
The 3 allegedly conspired by saying that the supplies already arrived in the country even if they haven't supposedly checked what these were.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee also said Ong, Twinkle and Mohit Dargani, and Yang, committed disobedience to the summons.
Yang, Ong, Dargani, and Mago also allegedly violated provisions in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Gordon, chairman of the investigating panel, did not elaborate about the partial report, which he said does not signal the end of the hearings.
“Our inquiry in aid of legislation reveals unconscionable, unabashed, and unethical circumventions of our republican way of governance. Nadiskubre po nating inuna ang kumita at makakuha ng kumisyon, o kickbacks, instead of coming up with the right way to quell the pandemic," Gordon said.
"At ngayon pong nahuli na natin sila, sa sarili nilang mga bibig, imbis po na humingi sila ng tawad sa taumbayan, ay naririnig natin ang naka-ririndi at paulit-ulit nilang pagdadahilan. Nasisikmura pa nilang magsinungaling sa sambayanan," the lawmaker added.
Gordon, who has been at the receiving end of Duterte's insults as the marathon hearings continued, said the chief executive approved of the pandemic deals.
He also reiterated that Yang had a hand with the transactions because of his links and friendship with Duterte.
“It is clear and categorical to us that this grand conspiracy could never have happened without the imprimatur of the President. The President allowed his friends to bleed this nation’s coffers dry,” Gordon said.
He also reiterated that the partial report was just the "beginning" of making officials accountable.
These initial findings need to be carried in a committee report and approved during the plenary session that will resume on Nov. 8.
Senators found a number of problems with government’s deals with the Pharmally.
Among these dubious deals were: Pharmally delivering 500,000 face masks ahead of purchase order; failing to show deeds for P33 million-worth of donation to the government; documents on Pharmally-DBM deals suddenly "went missing," among others.
The committee will resume its investigation on Oct. 28.