MANILA, Philippines – At least four senators said that they did not sign a panel report on the anomalies hounding the multibillion-peso pandemic contracts of President Rodrigo Duterte’s government done with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation because of the inclusion of Duterte in the recommendations for charges.
“I’ll be very honest about it. Kung wala dun ‘yung pangalan ni President Duterte (If the name of President Duterte was not in it) for plunder, I would sign it,” Senate Majority Floor Leader Migz Zubiri told reporters on Wednesday, June 1.
He added, “I don’t believe it is right kasi circumstantial evidence eh. By association siya eh.”
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian shared the same sentiment with Zubiri on his refusal to sign the report.
Meanwhile, in an interview with ANC’s Headstart, Senator Imee Marcos said that the report done by the Senate blue ribbon committee went “above and beyond the evidence.”
“We were a little bit surprised, if I have to say it politely, that it included the President and encompassed breach of trust and other allegations that had not really been discussed or had been shown by the evidence presented so,” Marcos said.
In a text message to Rappler on Monday, June 6, Senator Sonny Angara said he did not sign the report because he “didn’t agree with some parts” of it.
“Some conclusions were also unsupported by evidence,” he added.
Asked which parts he disagreed with, Angara said: “It’s a very long report and this was during the session before we adjourned for election break but definitely the betrayal of public trust which is an impeachable offense thus requires a certain process under the constitution.”
“If the report had limited itself to the filing of cases against the Pharmally officials and those directly involved then I would’ve signed it and I think the majority of senators might have as well,” he added.
In his privilege speech on late Tuesday night, May 31, Senate blue ribbon committee Richard Gordon told other senators that they “cannot shirk from our responsibilities” by refusing to sign the draft report. It was his last-ditch effort to get more blue ribbon committee members to sign the draft report.
“The Senate’s full disclosure of the Pharmally plunder controversy achieves closure for our people. I am doing this as a chairman in a quandary. I respect my fellow members. I do not try to antagonize them or badmouth them. I respect the Filipino people,” he said.
The 113-page draft report was first publicized in February, with Gordon’s panel recommending the filing of cases against Duterte himself once his term ends for failing to go after his appointees and businessmen responsible for the irregularities uncovered in the Pharmally deals.
The report also recommended the filing of cases, including graft and plunder, against Duterte’s former economic adviser Pharmally financier Michael Yang, former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and several other Pharmally executives and government officials.
Only nine senators signed the report. Gordon missed to get two more senators, depriving him of the opportunity to sponsor it at the plenary last June 1, when the rest of the chamber could have debated on the findings.
The following senators signed the report.
- Richard Gordon (committee chairman)
- Leila de Lima
- Risa Hontiveros
- Panfilo Lacson
- Manny Pacquiao
- Kiko Pangilinan
- Koko Pimentel
- Franklin Drilon (ex-officio member as Senate Minority Leader)
- Ralph Recto (ex-officio member as Senate President Pro-Tempore)
Rappler has reached out to other senators to ask why they did not sign the report but they have yet to respond as of this posting. We will update this story when they reply. – Rappler.com
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