DOH chief ready to answer Pharmally deal raps in ‘competent court of law’

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. (J.P. Rendon photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III declared that he is ready to answer and show proof of regularity in the government’s pandemic supply deals with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

Duque, who was in Iloilo City Thursday for the launching of the Resbakuna sa Botika, was asked for his reaction to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee panel’s recommendation to file criminal charges against him and President Rodrigo Duterte.

“‘Yan ay draft committee report, partial, sa Senado. Dadaan pa yan sa kanilang proseso dahil alam ko tatlo lang ang nakapirma. Kailangan papirmahan sa majority ng Blue Ribbon Committee members,” he said.

“So, antayin na lang natin because there is nothing definite but tayo naman, as soon as they will be able to file this, assuming i-a-adopt ng Senado ang committee report, so dadalhin yan sa Ombudsman o sa DOJ, handang-handa akong sagutin lahat ‘yan” he added.

Duque said he attended all 10 hearings of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

“That’s 10 out of 10. Lahat ng aming paliwanag, walang lumabas doon sa kanilang report. So ibig sabihin, hindi nila kami pinapakinggan kahit anong sabihin namin,” he said.

Duque added, “in the competent court of law like the Ombudsman, we will have a better chance of presenting our evidences, presenting the laws that were used as bases for the transfer of the funds to the PS-DBM which is also a government agency.”

The Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management or the PS-DBM has the primary task of implementing the central procurement system for the use of other government agencies.

A preliminary report released by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Tuesday said that Duterte “betrayed public trust in violation of his oath,” and charges “must be considered” against him once his term ends in June 2022.

The Senate committee that investigated alleged overpriced pandemic supplies purchased by the government also suggested filing complaints against Duque for violation of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Senate hearings uncovered that Pharmally secured P10 billion in pandemic deals between 2020 and 2021 despite being a newly created firm that lacked the funds to handle such government procurement.

In its partial report, the Blue Ribbon Committee added “public funds [were] plundered as the Filipino people struggled” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aside from Duterte and Duque, the panel also recommended the filing of charges before the Department of Justice against former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang, resigned Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, Atty. Warren Rex Liong and executives of Pharmally: Mohit Dargani, Twinkle Dargani, Krizle Grace Mago, Huang Tzu Yen, Dickson Panti, Lin Weixiong, and Rose Nono Lin.

Lin, Yang, and Qing Jin Ke should be deported for being “undesirable aliens,” the committee added.