Pharmally hearings by Senate Blue Ribbon Committee 'in aid of legislation' | Inquirer Opinion
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Pharmally hearings by Senate Blue Ribbon Committee ‘in aid of legislation’

/ 04:00 AM November 09, 2021

No offense meant, but investigations of both Senate and House of Representatives on the alleged corruption on P10 billion worth of medical supplies are becoming a big joke on whether someone will really be convicted and jailed in the end.

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability conducted four “motu propio” hearings on Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., the last one on Oct. 4. Committee Chairman and Diwa Party-list Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay promised their report will be released either today or on Dec. 4. He says the committee already ruled out the issue of overpricing after the clarification of COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo.

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He also assured the public that the House report will tackle all “allegations of fraud and abuse” in the DOH procurement through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management. This will then be submitted for review by the panel members and decided by a vote.

Meanwhile, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee continues its investigation “in aid of legislation” on the alleged overpriced deal. The hearings which begun on Aug. 16, has detained “uncooperative” witnesses, who also countercharge the senators of “bullying and harassment”. Chairman Sen. Richard Gordon, in its partial findings, says they will recommend possible charges against former presidential adviser Michael Yang, former DBM officers Christopher Lloyd Lao and Warren Liong and the directors and officers of Pharmally.

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Gordon has accused President Duterte of being at the center of this alleged “grand conspiracy” to defraud the government of billions of pesos at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

Last week, Health Secretary Fransisco Duque and all executive officials and employees of the national government agencies did not attend the 14th hearing of the Committee in compliance with a Palace memorandum order, a move that will be challenged before the Supreme Court.

But what people are seeing today are legislators fielding questions to resource persons like what BIR examiners, SEC field auditors, or even city hall business inspectors do. Even regular business transactions or strategies are discussed in most of the Q and A.
We have all witnessed these in the past, discussed, heard, and aired about these in aid of legislation probes. In the end, people already know that nothing happens especially near presidential elections.

Remember the 27 public hearings that lasted more than one year in Sen. Koko Pimentel led-Blue Ribbon committee on then Vice President Jojo Binay, his son, Mayor Jun Jun Binay and Sen. Nancy Binay? The committee released its findings three months before the 2010 elections, recommending plunder charges against BInay and his son. But the Ombudsman only found graft and falsification charges against both the accused. Yes, the case destroyed VP Binay’s winning chances.

I can’t help but be reminded of the then Committee of the Whole ethics complaint versus Sen. Manny Villar on the controversial C-5 Daang Hari. Numerous public hearings were also held, only to be dismissed later by fellow senators. But Villar lost in the elections.

These “showy” Congress probes are never forgotten. The people are now woke, if these allegations turn out to be substantiated or stage-managed. And since this is election season again, this “in aid of legislation” probes may be part of the regular political roller coaster of lies, deception and manipulation of voters’ minds.

The best development is when Ombudsman Samuel Martires disclosed they are conducting their own investigation on Pharmally transactions and results will be out in weeks. This is the better and quicker way of putting to jail the perpetrators, if any.

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However, we would be greatly disappointed if Ombudsman Martirez’s verdict comes ahead of the Senate and House committee investigations. If this happens, big shame on our legislators who are already wasting so much “people’s time”.

Please, senators and congressmen, file those serious charges ASAP in the DOJ, the court, Ombudsman and jail those Pharmally officers and their government accomplices who will be proven guilty.

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TAGS: column Jake Maderazo, opinion, Pharmally
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