The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said Tuesday it was recommending the filing of graft charges against those involved in the supply of face shields, masks and other COVID-19 gear that were "grossly disadvantageous" to the government.
The case must include President Rodrigo Duterte's former adviser Michael Yang and several officials of the government and of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp, according to the panel that investigated the supply contracts.
"Sa ating imbestigasyon, malinaw po ang unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference o favoritism na binigay sa Pharmally," said the lead investigator, Sen. Richard Gordon.
Godron said former Budget Usec. Christopher Lao, who headed the agency's procurement service, gave contracts to Pharmally that were "manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government," Gordon said.
The Senate investigated Pharmally after it bagged over P8 billion in contracts to provide medical supplies last year despite having only P625,000 in paid-up capital.
Gordon said the government awarded the contracts to Pharmally despite its lack of legal, technical and financial capability to supply the required gear.
Yang, Pharmally director Linconn Ong, and officer Krizle Mago are also facing perjury and false testimony charges. Mago recanted her earlier statement before the panel that her firm might have "swindled" the government over the COVID-19 supplies they provided.
Yang, Ong, and Pharmally corporate treasurer Mohit Dargani are recommended charged for evading the summons issued by the Senate to attend the hearing.
Along with Mago, they are also facing charges for violating Sec. 6(c) of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which penalizes profiteering and other practices that affect the supply and distribution of essential items and services during the pandemic.
“Uulitin at lilinawin ko po: ito po ay panimula pa lamang. Ito pa lang po ang unang yugto ng pagpapanagot sa mga taong nangahas magnakaw sa kaban ng bayan habang nasa gitna tayo ng karimlan ng pandemic,” Gordon said.
Yang used to serve as Duterte's economic adviser. The President initially denied the appointment in 2018 but was later confirmed by his chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo.
In 2019, Malacañang said Yang was no longer an adviser to the President after a former police officer, Eduardo Acierto, linked the Chinese trader to illegal drugs.
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