MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday dismissed anew as hearsay claims that the “grand conspiracy” of alleged overpricing in the purchase of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. would never have happened without the "imprimatur" of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, released the preliminary findings of his panel’s investigation on the purportedly overpriced medical supplies purchased by the government from Pharmally.
Gordon said the national government granted Pharmally "unwanted benefits" when it awarded over PHP8 billion worth of contracts to the firm.
He also said Duterte allegedly "allowed his friends to bleed this nation's coffers dry".
“Kuwentong kutsero po iyan sa panahon ng pulitika; pero kapag ebidensiya po, walang ganyang ebidensiya. In fact, ni hindi nga napatunayan na may kinalaman iyong relasyon ng Presidente sa pagbili ng mga PPE [personal protective equipment] (It’s just hearsay at the time of politics; but they have no evidence to show. In fact, they were not able to prove Duterte’s involvement in purchasing PPE sets),” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque pointed out that no less than the Commission on Audit (COA) declared that the PPE sets bought by the current administration were not overpriced.
He also said the government’s procurement was consistent with existing laws such as Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
“Malinaw po iyan, so kung wala pong paglabag sa batas at walang overprice, bakit magkakaroon ng grand conspiracy? Usaping kutsero po ng isang taong namumulitika (That is clear, so if there was no violation of the law and no overpricing, how would there be a grand conspiracy? That’s hearsay coming from a person politicking),” he added.
Amid Duterte’s memorandum barring executive officials from appearing in the Senate panel probes, Roque said the hearings could still continue sans the participation of those leading the country’s Covid-19 pandemic response.
“Hindi po natin hinarangan iyan; ang sinabi lang ng Presidente (The hearings are not being stopped; it’s just that the President said), enough is enough at the time of pandemic. Pero nakikita naman natin na si Secretary [Francisco] Duque ay nagsasabing wala siyang tinatago (But we can see Secretary Duque saying that he has nothing to hide),” he said.
Duterte, in several public addresses, said he was not blocking the Senate panel investigation, but noted that his executive officials should no longer be involved.