September 19, 2021 | 10:21 am
MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Saturday urged the Audit Commission to conduct a special audit and the Ombudsman to conduct his own investigation into the controversial multibillion-peso deals between the purchasing department of the Ministry of budget and management and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
The Blue Ribbon Senate Group’s ongoing investigation into government spending reported by the COA has so far focused on the procurement department of DBM and Pharmally, to which it has awarded the largest contracts in the event of pandemic despite having paid-in capital of only P625,000 – an amount Drilon said was “obviously insufficient to shoulder the enormous risk of delivering billions of dollars in purchases.”
In a radio interview late Saturday night, Drilon maintained that there was reason to believe there was an overestimation of face masks and other medical supplies, adding that a special audit was needed as the Regular annual audit of the COA may not be sufficient to establish an overvaluation.
Drilon said the ombudsman and the COA can subpoena documents and witnesses.
âDue to the many results of the Blue Ribbon investigation, I am asking and it may be time to do a special audit so that they can see and confirm what emerges from the Senate investigation,â said Drilon in Filipino and English.
“They have the power to view and examine the documents individually,” he added.
In a separate statement, Drilon said the ombudsman may form an investigative team to investigate the purchase of overpriced medical supplies from Pharmally by PS-DBM.
The ombudsperson’s office said it would wait for agencies to submit documents to the COA to address shortcomings state auditors reported in government spending in the event of a pandemic.
In 2020 alone, Pharmally cashed 8.68 billion pesos in contracts, after which his income soared to over 300 million pesos in 2020 from zero reported income in 2019. The following year, he also entered into a another 2 billion pesos agreement with PS-DBM.
Earlier on Saturday, Senator Leila de Lima also called for the assets of former Presidential Economic Affairs Advisor Michael Yang, former Under Secretary Christopher Lloyd Lao and Pharmally officials to be frozen.
The opposition senator also pointed to luxury cars allegedly bought by executives at Pharmally that year when they cornered billions in contracts with PS-DBM.
âThere is an urgent need to freeze the assets of all these soulless monsters before they all fly to the Caribbean with their looted booty. The AMLC should immediately seek a freezing order and initiate civil confiscation proceedings against these shameless profiteers, âsaid De Lima, referring to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
âThis Lamborghini, this Porsche, this Lexus is the people’s money. It’s our money. And these greedy monsters have no conscience, using our money to feed their unlimited sociopathic need for material wealth at the expense of dying Filipinos amid the COVID-19 disaster. They deserve to burn in hell, âadded De Lima.
– with reports by Bella Perez-Rubio and The STAR