BI issues lookout bulletin order vs Michael Yang, 8 others

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2021   •   238

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has issued an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) against former presidential adviser on economic affairs Michael Yang, also known as Yang Hong Ming.

Yang is among the subjects of an ongoing Senate investigation on the budget utilization of government-procured pandemic response supplies for alleged overpricing.

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, the ILBO was issued in compliance to the order from the Department of Justice (DOJ) following a request from Senator Richard Gordon being the chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

“This matter is of national interest. We have made the proper arrangements, and our immigration officers are now on the lookout for the possible departure of the suspect personalities,” Morente said.

Meanwhile, pursuant to a September 7 order from the DOJ, former chief of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) Atty. Lloyd Christopher Lao was also placed under lookout bulletin.

Aside from Lao and Yang, the BI also placed under ILBO Overall Deputy Ombudsman Atty. Warren Rex Liong and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.’s executives Twinkle Dargani, Huang Tzu Yen, Krizle Grace Mago, Justine Garado, Linconn Ong, and Mohit Dargani.

The BI clarified that an ILBO is for monitoring the movement of subjects who might attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal process by leaving the country.

“An ILBO is issued for prudence to double check if there are any pending arrest warrants against the subjects, or monitor their itineraries and whereabouts, should they attempt to leave the country,” the BI explained.

The Senate has started an investigation on Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. to dig into the P8 billion worth of government contracts despite being a start-up company with only P625,000 in paid-up capital.

Pharmally on Blue Ribbon hearing: ‘They treat us like criminals’

Maris Federez   •   October 22, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines [UPDATE] — The Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation on Friday issued a statement regarding the heavy scrutiny it is going through over its alleged questionable deals with the government on the procurement of pandemic supplies.

In a statement released to media, Pharmally corporate-secretary Mohit Dargani said that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has not been impartial in the way it handled the hearing on the said allegation.

“The Blue ribbon failed to treat us justly. Rather than impartially listening to us, they tried to get us to incriminate ourselves. They want us detained because we asserted our rights, they can’t get what they want to hear from us,” Dargani said.

Dargani also refuted claims that President Rodrigo Duterte had a hand in their deal with the government in supplying the country with face masks and face shields as part of the efforts to address the pandemic.

“Walang kinalaman ang Presidente sa transactions namin with PS-DBM (Procurement Service – Department of Budget and Management),” Dargani said.

Dargani further slammed the committee for what he claimed as false accusations.

“We are being falsely accused for political gain. Malapit na eleksyon and we are like hostages. Hindi na para sa bayan. But for their political survival,” the Pharmally official said.

“They treat us like criminals whose lives aren’t worthy of living anymore,” he added.

Dargani further said that Pharmally has been cooperating with the committee out of respect to them, but this, he stressed, “was completely out of harmony with accepted legal standards.”

Conversely, Senator Riza Hontiveros issued her reaction to Dargani’s statement.

Hontiveros insists that Pharmally has yet to complete the documents that the Senators in the Blue Ribbon have been asking from the pharmaceutical company since the start of the committee hearing.

“Let me just remind Mr. Dargani, lahat ng resource persons sa mga hearing ay under oath. Kapag pabago-bago at hindi nagtutugma ang mga kwento nila, they are disrespecting the Blue Ribbon Committee and the Filipino people,” she said.

“The Chairman is within his power to hold them in contempt, and I fully support the committee’s efforts to find the Dargani siblings,” she added.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also reacted to Dargani, saying, “to cooperate in the Senate means they should submit the documents subject of subpoena duces tecum or as asked by a senator. I suggest they read the PH Constitution!” —/mbmf

Right to data privacy not an excuse to evade legal proceedings – NPC

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Thursday reiterated that a person’s right to data privacy should not be used as an excuse to evade legal investigations.

“We would like to reiterate that the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (DPA) does not prohibit the disclosure of personal or sensitive personal information (collectively, personal data) when necessary for purposes of complying with validly issued subpoenas by government investigating bodies,” NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro said in a statement.

“Data privacy rights should not be cited as an excuse to evade legal proceedings,” he added.

Liboro issued the statement after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee cited in contempt and ordered the detention of Pharmally’s president Twinkle Dargani, and corporate secretary Mohit Dargani when they refused to submit documents subpoenaed by the panel.

The Dargani siblings have been resisting Senate orders to submit several source documents related to the contracts it made with the government on pandemic supplies, citing advice from legal counsel.

“While we advocate for the protection of the right to data privacy of data subjects, there are provisions in the law that recognizes the processing of personal information when necessary for compliance with a legal obligation or to fulfill functions of public authorities,” Liboro said.

“On the other hand, sensitive personal information may also be processed when provided for by existing laws and regulations, or necessary for establishment, exercise, or defense of legal claims, among others,” he added.

The Pharmally Pharmaceutical company has been under scrutiny for its allegedly questionable deals with the government for the purchase of face masks and face shields.

 

Duterte backs call for Ombudsman probe on Pharmally issue

Maris Federez   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte supports a call for the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on the government’s alleged anomalous procurement of pandemic supplies.

The president was referring to the appeal of the Philippine College of Physicians for the Ombudsman to file appropriate cases against all those accountable in the controversial multibillion-peso deals between the government and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

“We welcome the call of the Philippine College of Physicians that this matter should be immediately given to our courts and the Ombudsman. We have been saying this for the longest time and we all know that the Senate cannot prosecute. Mabuti pa ang mga doktor alam at naintindihan nila,” Duterte said.

“File cases is the right way to go. Stop using this issue in aid of election. Problema kasi sa Senate natin trying hard maghanap ng mga issue na may nangungurakot o kaya may nagkakapera,” he added.

The chief executive stated that, to date, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has yet to build a case out of the hearings it has conducted, pointing out that that the said government deal was consistent with Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act.

“And so we go back now to what has been established many times, walang overpricing […} legal ang naging proseso ng pagbili, according to what has been provided by Bayanihan 1. Na-deliver lahat at binayaran nang pagkatapos na-deliver,” the president insisted.

Duterte also dared the Senate to bring the matter to the proper courts.

“And if you think that you have identified companies with tax issues, then file the appropriate cases. Matagal na naman namin sinasabi, kasuhan niyo ang mga dapat kasuhan. Lahat naman talaga dapat magbayad ng buwis at kung kailangan magbayad, singilan para magbayad iyong may mga atraso sa gobyerno kagaya ni Senator Gordon,” Duterte said.

“Eh you call my memorandum ‘stupid?’ Well, I challenge you: bring your arguments to the proper court and I will answer you,” he further stated.

The president also slammed Senator Richard Gordon for threatening to cut the budget of the executive department if the officials will not attend the Blue Ribbon’s hearings, calling it a blatant abuse of power.

“You threaten the budget of different agencies of the Executive because the officials refuse to attend to your hearings. Ito ‘yung mga pang-abuso talaga itong masabi ko sa gobyerno — sa gobyerno ‘pag ka demokrasya, itong separation of powers, co-equal and everything; and they threatened to paralyze government,” Duterte said.

“I challenge you, do it. ‘Pag ka ‘yung mga hearing reduce the budget by one third, hinahamon ko kayo, gawain ninyo ‘yan,” he added. —/mbmf

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