'Maraming niloko': Gordon wants jail time for people behind Pharmally scandal
MANILA — Former senator Richard Gordon on Saturday said he wants to see those implicated in the Pharmally corruption mess behind bars, after the Ombudsman moved to suspend some personalities in the scandal.
"Plunder lahat 'yan eh, kaya dapat maramdaman ng tao na 'yung nangulimbat... maparusahan talaga. Maraming niloko sa atin," Gordon said in an ABS-CBN TeleRadyo interview.
"Kahit na papaano, kahit 'di maibalik ['yung pera], makulong lang 'yang halimaw na 'yan. At least, bawi ang tao at magkakaroon ulit ng lakas ng loob at kumpiyansa ang mga kababayan natin," he added.
This week, 33 government officials were placed by the Ombudsman under a 6-month preventive suspension over the purchase of COVID-19 test kits from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation in 2020.
Those who were put on preventive suspension included former Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, and former PS-DBM procurement group director and now Overall Deputy Ombudsman Warren Rex Liong.
The Ombudsman said the overwhelming documentary proof showed that respondents’ evidence of guilt was strong.
The respondents are facing charges of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon led a Senate blue ribbon investigation into the Pharmally over alleged dubious transactions it got into with the government.
The Senate committee had recommended plunder and graft charges against Lao, Liong, former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang, and a former director at the PS-DBM, among others.
Gordon believes that the suspension orders issued by the Ombudsman will lead to investigations into the big personalities behind the scandal.
"Kulang pa dapat habulin," Gordon said of the recent move by the Ombudsman.
"Ito ang magbubukas ng pinto para buksan talaga 'yung imbestigasyon doon sa malalaking tao, hanggang doon sa pinakamataa,s lalong-lalo na 'yung mga banyaga na talagang nagsamantala," he said.
The former senator suggested that the Ombudsman use the findings of the Senate blue ribbon committee to launch a motu proprio investigation into the pandemic transactions of Pharmally.
"'Yan ay public record ng Senado na puwedeng ituloy ng Ombudsman," Gordon said.
"Kahit walang imbestigasyon ang Blue Ribbon, basta nakita nila merong talagang sensyales na nagkaroon ng kurakot, motu proprio, on their own, Ombudsman puwede silang imbestigahan agad, puwede silang suspendehin."
Gordon lost in his reelection bid last year.