Business leaders support Senate probe on Pharmally scandal – Gordon
Business leaders have joined the fray in calling on the government to cooperate with the Senate investigation into the alleged anomalous procurement contracts it entered with private suppliers for the country’s response to COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Richard J. Gordon, who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee, disclosed he has received the position paper of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands (CCPI) expressing its support to the ongoing Senate investigation.
“We heed our business leaders’ call to pursue our investigation and exact accountability from those individuals responsible for the irregularities that marred the purchases of COVID-19-related medical supplies and equipment,” he said.
“More people, organizations, and sectors have sent us statements of support, and we are relentless in finding out the truth on how public funds were used and who profited from these pandemic contracts,” he added.
CCPI, the country’s oldest economic business institution, is the latest business group that expressed support to the Senate investigation into the multi-billion contracts that the government entered with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.
“As people suffer and die from the COVID disease, and the country incurs an all-time-high debt burden, it is of utmost imperative for governance to show and prove transparent accountability and good governance on how the money of the people was spent by DOH/DBM. It is basic common sense of basic decent humanity,” CCPI President Jose Luis Yulo said.
“The institutions of government -- Commission on Audit, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, other institutions (private and public), and the people must be encouraged, supported, and defended in their sublime duties to investigate, and exact accountability/good governance from those that are duty bound to serve the people and who control the money of the people, in-trust for the people, especially in these difficult times,” he added.
Apart from CCPI, other business groups which issued a statement of support behind the Senate investigation are the Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, and Shareholders Association of the Philippines, among others.
Medical and allied/paramedical organizations likewise issued a statement of support. They are Makati Medical Center, Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Pediatric Society, Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, and others.
Both the Department of Health (DOH) and the Procurement Service – Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) have been called in the Senate to explain the government’s alleged anomalous deals with Pharmally Pharmaceutical, an upstart company linked to former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang.
However, Mr. Duterte has issued a directive barring his Cabinet officials and employees not to attend the Senate investigation even as he ordered law enforcement authorities not to cooperate in serving the Senate’s arrest warrants.
It may be recalled that two of the country’s top lawyers’ organizations – Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Philippine Bar Association – have called Mr. Duterte’s directive as unconstitutional.
Philippine pandemic response is also frowned upon by the international community. The country is ranked last among 121 nations in a survey by Nikkei Asia, while Bloomberg called the Philippines “the worst place in the world” in the time of COVID.
Due to the pandemic, the country has incurred an outstanding debt of PhP11.6 trillion as of July 31, the highest ever. Unemployment remains high, leaving 3.9 million Filipinos jobless, taking a hit to the country’s gross national product.
Based on the official bulletin, as of Oct. 13, COVID-19 took the lives of 40,069 individuals, while more than 2,690,455 have so far contracted the virus since the pandemic broke out 18 months ago.