Duterte backs call for Ombudsman probe on Pharmally issue

Maris Federez   •   October 20, 2021   •   447

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

Pagkalat ng Omicron COVID-19 variant, ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ – Phil. College of Physicians

Robie de Guzman   •   January 5, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala ang Philippine College of Physicains na lubhang maaapektuhan ng panibagong COVID-19 surge, partikular na ng Omicron variant, ang mga hindi pa bakunado kontra coronavirus disease.

Mild symptoms lang ang dala ng Omicron variant pero mas mabilis itong kumalat at makapanghawa kaya mas marami rin ang magkakasakit.

May posibilidad ring mahawa nito kahit ang mga nabakunahan na kontra COVID-19.

Ayon kay Philippine College of Physicians president Dr. Maricar Limpin, maaaring maging “pandemic of the unvaccinated” ang Omicron variant.

 “Pinakamabuti pa rin po sa ngayon ay magpabakuna po kayo, that is the best protection na pwede po natin ma-provide sa ating mga sarili,” ani Limpin.

“Iyong severity ng sakit na ito has something to do with the vaccination rate natin… May mga na-admit kami who were unvaccinated na medyo severe, oxygen-requiring iyong karamihan sa kanila,” dagdag pa niya.

Sa pagtama ng Omicron variant sa Pilipinas, apektado ang mga mas batang populasyon.

Ani Limpin, kahit mild ang sintomas ay kailangan pa ring i-admit sa ospital lalo na ang mga sanggol na nahawa sa COVID-19 upang mabigyan ng karampatang atensyong medikal.

“The children, hindi pa sila bakunado and yet we allowed them to go out. Iyon nga iyong palagi naming sinasabi maski noon pa, ang worry talaga namin iyong pinayagn ang mga children na lumabas,” ani Limpin.

“Mga sangol pa lang and yet nilalabas, and so right now may mga pasyente rin na 6 months old nag-positive of COVID-19,” dagdag pa niya.

Hindi biro ang epekto ng Omicron variant o ano mang COVID-19 variant sa kalusugan ng tao. Wala itong pinipiling edad kaya panawagan ng mga eksperto sa mga magulang,  pabakunahan ang kanilang mga anak na may edad 5 hanggang 11 taong gulang kapag nasimula na ang COVID-19 vaccination sa kanilang hanay.

Muli ring nanawagan ang grupo sa publiko na maging responsable at huwag balewalain ang health protocols lalo’t pinangangambahang muling mapupuno ang mga ospital sa gitna ng muling paglobo ng kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa. (mula sa ulat ni Correspendent Aiko Miguel)

Pharmally employee files sedition complaint vs. Hontiveros before Ombudsman

Maris Federez   •   November 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — An employee of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation has filed a sedition complaint against Senator Risa Hontiveros and her staff before the Office of the Ombudsman.

The complaint was filed by Jaime Vegas, a colleague of Veejay Almira who stood as Hontiveros’ witness in the previous hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee against the beleaguered company.

On Wednesday (November 3), Almira faced the members of the media and retracted his earlier statements during a September 24 Blue Ribbon hearing wherein he talked about the alleged substandard medical supplies, as well as the tampering of expiration dates in the label of face shields that the government procured from Pharmally.

In the media conference, Almira claimed that he only asked for help through the lawmaker’s Facebook page. But upon learning that he works at Pharmally, Hontiveros’ staff purportedly asked for pictures and videos of their warehouse.

“Wala po akong intensyon na siraan ang aking kumpanya na aking pinapasukan, ginawa ko po yun dahil nangako sila ng tulong sa’king anak […] Akala ko lehitimong pagtulong lang ang ginagawa nila pero yun pala gusto lang nila akong gawing testigo para siraan ang ano ng gobyerno,” Almira said.

He also claimed that to receive Hontiveros financial assistance, he was instructed by Atty. Jay Bekema of the senator’s legal team to sign a sworn statement that says the face shields supplied by Pharmally were already expired.

“Sa donasyon po ni Sen. Risa Hontiveros ay inutusan po ako ni Atty. Jay para pumirma ng sinumpaang salaysay sabihin na expired ang face shields ng Pharmally,” Almira said.

“Lahat din po ng sinasabi ko sa video ay tinuturo sa’kin nina attorney po. Ayun din po kasi yung pinag-uutos galing sa opisina ni Sen. Hontiveros,” he added.

Vegas said that he filed conspiracy to commit sedition, sedition, perjury, offering false witnesses, and violation of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees against the lawmaker and her staff before the Ombudsman.

Hontiveros, however, denied the allegation.

The senator presented screenshots of Almira’s messages on Facebook since September 3 proving that it was him who approached them first.

Hontiveros also said Almira had been sending them messages even on email regarding pieces of information on their anomalous activities in Pharmally.

It was also Almira who offered to do a video recording to refute claims that Hontiveros paid him to stand as her witness.

“Wala siyang hiningi at lalong wala kaming inoffer na kapalit. Pagkatapos niyang i-tape yung video na ipinakita ko sa Blue Ribbon hearing […] May insidenteng natakot siya. Pinakita ko rin sa Blue Ribbon noon na may dalawang lalaking nakamotor na sila ang nag-aalok ng pera sa isang kaibigan ni Veejay para ituro daw ang kanyang bahay. Humingi siya ng office ko na makalikas sa kanyang tahanan. At siya rin ang humingi ng assistance para panggastos sa lilipatan nila,” Hontiveros said.

“Walang-walang bribery on the part of anyone in my office, or my whole office with regards Jayvee, klarong-klaro po ‘yun,” the lawmaker added.

Atty. Bekema, on the other hand, admitted giving financial assistance to Almira which was purportedly for his sick child. He, however, denied that the assistance amounted to Php20,000.

“May mga hiningi na hindi namin naibigay, inaamin ko po na nagbigay ako pero personal via Gcash. Pero di totoo yung 20k… 1,500, 2k pati toys. But it is humanitarian. Labas po ito sa office, after na ito ng pagtestify niya,” Bekema explained.

Hontiveros believes that this turn of events was politically motivated and aimed at steering the public’s attention away from the investigation.

“Talagang nakakatawa yung charge ng sedition,” Hontiveros said. “Yung pagtanggap ng impormasyon mula sa concerned citizens para singilin yung accountability ng public officials sa graft and corruption, that is hardly, that’s not at all inciting to sedition.”

“Patunay lang na they feel the need to try to divert the attention not only the committee at ng Senado but ng publiko sa mga krimen na ginagawa nila,” Hontiveros asserted. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Senate fails to serve arrest order vs Dargani siblings

Maris Federez   •   October 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms still has not served the arrest order against siblings Mohit and Twinkle Dargani, executives of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

According to retired General Rene Samonte, Senate personnel once again went to the addresses provided by the Darganis and an informant, but the siblings were nowhere to be found.

Mohit Dargani had earlier issued a statement claiming that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee failed to be  impartial in treating them during the hearing that they attended.

He also accused the Senate panel of using the hearing for political gains as election season nears.

Meanwhile, the Blue Ribbon has issued a subpoena against Pharmally chief accountant Jeff Mariano.

This was after Pharmally’s external auditor, Illuminada Sebial, said in a previous hearing that the company has stopped providing her copies of its sales report that was also subpoenaed by the Committee.

The Blue Ribbon is set to conduct its 13th hearing of the case on Thursday, October 28. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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