September 15 ------ Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte won’t launch tirades against him and the Senate for investigating the alleged overpriced medical supplies if he is not hiding something. “Kung wala siyang tinatago, hindi siya babanat nang ganon. Sasagutin niya at hindi siya kakampi doon sa mga naimbestiga namin na sinasabi may koneksyon sa drugs, sinasabi kaibigan niyang matalik at lumalabas yung pangalan, nagsisinungaling sa Senado, sasabihin niya wala na siyang kinalaman doon sa Pharmally, si Michael Yang,” he said in an interview with DzBB reporter Nimfa Ravelo. He recalled Duterte’s meeting with Pharmally officials and Yang in 2017.
Gordon likewise mentioned the admission of Pharmally President Huang Tzu Yen that they borrowed money from Yang. Apart from this, the senator noted that Yang also served as a guarantor for the start-up firm. The lawmaker said Duterte should have asked Yang about his involvement in the government transactions with Pharmally. “Ipagtatanggol pa niya yung mga kaibigan niya at sisiraan pa niya ang co-equal branch of government. Di ko maintindihan e, bakit ganoon. At pagka masyado kang nagpupumiglas, ibig sabihin, maaaring may tinatago ka,” he said.
This, he said, will prompt the Senate to dig deeper into the issue to find out the “connections” that enabled the awarding of multi-billion contracts to a start-up company with a P625,000 paid-up capital. Gordon also said he believes that Pharmally is just a dummy company of Michael Yang. “Tingin ko dummy. Nayari sila sa Taiwan ginamit nila yung front ng Pharmally,” he said. Citing the appointment history of former Budget Undersecretary Christopher Lao, Gordon said that the latter was working directly with the president that’s why the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service entered into the transactions with Pharmally.
“Di ba sabi ni [former Budget Secretary] Wendel Avisado, ‘oo technically…nasa ilalim ko ‘yan, pero ‘yan, ang may supervision and control niyan, ang appointing authority, ang pwedeng makialam, mag-affirm, mag-revise, mag-reverse ng mga ginagawa ni Lao ay ang Presidente, yung appointing authority,” Gordon said. Gordon added Duterte was defending Yang and the other individuals allegedly involved in the transactions because he knows that he might be tagged in the controversy.
“I think he knows na maaari siyang masangkot kaya ngayon pa lang, pinipilit niyang masira yung imbestigasyon at pinipilit niya lahat ng issue kung maaari lang mahiwalay doon sa, mawala ang atensyon ng tao. Kasi ngayon lang siya nayanig e. Dati kasi walang tumitindig di ba?” Gordon said. “Hindi naman ako nagimbestigasyon para tindigan ko siya e. Nag imbestigasyon ako dahil we are sworn to find out yung mga accountable officers kung they serve the people,” he added. In a taped address aired Tuesday morning, Duterte lambasted Gordon anew as he leads the Senate probe into the alleged overpricing in government-procured COVID-19 supplies. He said he will bar the Cabinet members from attending the probe without his clearance and he will personally campaign against Gordon.