Michael Yang ‘no-show’ in Senate probe due to high blood pressure

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2021   •   337

MANILA, Philippines — Former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang was a ‘no-show’ during the continuation of the Senate probe on ‘overpriced’ medical supplies procured by the Department of Health (DOH).

Yang’s legal counsel Raymond Fortun on Monday (September 13) said that the doctor had advised Yang to take a rest after his blood pressure went up. Fortun also said he is prepared to submit a medical certificate as proof of Yang’s condition.

“His blood pressure had suddenly shot up. And for that reason, he was advised by his doctor to just stay home. Apparently, because of the proceedings, his health has been affected,” he said.

However, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairperson Senator Richard Gordon said the Senate Committee will not give Yang a free pass.

“He can appear, he is not under pressure there, he is in Davao where he is comfortable, he can bring his doctor if he will and we want to see him. You know that always occurs when somebody’s under investigation they come in a wheelchair, show they picture that they cannot appear,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation director, Lincoln Ong, is still under house arrest since he is still recovering from COVID-19.

The Senate probe was opened after the Commission on Audit (COA) reported the DOH’s transfer of P42 billion funds to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the procurement of face masks and face shields at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

NPC draws line between invoking data privacy law and obeying gov’t subpoena

Maris Federez   •   October 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has clarified that no one must use the Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 as an excuse to withhold information in legal proceedings.

The NPC made the clarification amid the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged anomalous government transaction with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

In a statement, NPC Commissioner Raymond Liboro said that the law does not prohibit anyone to release personal information in compliance with a subpoena issued by any government investigating body.

“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,” Liboro said.

The statement added that while the NPC aims to protect a person’s data privacy rights, there are provisions in the law that recognizes the processing of personal information when used in legal proceedings.

“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,” he said.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon noted the NPC’s clarification on the matter.

“Liboro’s initiative and insights are greatly appreciated by the Blue Ribbon Committee and, if I may speak for the whole, by the Senate,” Gordons said.

It can be recalled that the Blue Ribbon cited Pharmally executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani for contempt for not allowing the release of sourced documents to the committee. The Senate panel subsequently ordered the detention of the two.

The Dargani siblings had invoked the Data Privacy Law, as well as the Bank Secrecy Code and the Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines on why they cannot provide the Senate committee with the company’s financial documents. —/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)

Blue Ribbon to release initial report on ‘overpriced’ medical supplies from Pharmally

Maris Federez   •   October 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is set to release the initial report on its investigation into the alleged overpriced medical supplies for COVID-19 procured by the government from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

Blue Ribbon chairperson Senator Richard Gordon said they will try to release the said preliminary report within this week.

He said the committee had been very careful in preparing the report from the results of the investigations conducted in the series of hearings. He added that individuals who must take accountability for the said anomaly will be included in the report in accordance with the anti-graft law and the procurement law.

“Ang lalabas ngayon, ano ang naging resulta ng imbestigasyon. Well, mabusisi ito. Malinaw na kung anong ginawa. ‘Yun ang ipapalabas natin. Ito ang ginawa ng mga taong ‘to, ito ang mananagot sa anti-graft, ito ang mananagot sa violation ng procurement law, at sino ba talaga ang nagpaikot niyan,” Gordon said.

The senator said they will hold the twelfth hearing on the said issue on Tuesday, following its cancellation last October 12. —/mbmf (with details from UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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