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Duque maintains DOH not involved with Pharmally issue

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday maintained that the Department of Health was not involved in the controversial transactions with Pharmally Corp.

Duque made the statement after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommended plunder, graft and other criminal and administrative charges against Duque, former government officials, and Pharmally executives in connection to the government's multi-billion-peso contracts with the pharmaceutical company.

According to the partial report released by the office of Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, Duque violated Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7080 or the Plunder Law.

"It is unfortunate that the Panel turned a blind eye to the truth that was revealed during the Senate  Blue Ribbon hearing that all procurements for the country's COVID-19 response were made through the PS-DBM, the agency purposely tasked to undertake such activities," Duque said in a statement.

"We at the DOH were not part of the activity as we were focused on the medical side of the pandemic response," he added.

If the committee adopts the recommendation, Duque said he would wait for the action of the appropriate tribunal.

"It is assured that we will fully cooperate with the Tribunal's process as we have nothing to hide," Duque said.

Meanwhile, the committee said President Rodrigo Duterte betrayed public trust, in violation of his oath of office under the 1987 Constitution, in connection with his actions related to the controversial deal with Pharmally.

Citing the law that the president could not be sued during his tenure of office or actual incumbency, the panel said the charges against President Rodrigo Duterte should be dealt with after he leaves office.

Others who were found in violation of the Plunder Law were former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang, former Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM) officer-in-charge Atty. Christopher Lloyd Lao, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Warren Rex Liong, Pharmally executives Linconn Ong, Mohit Dargani, Twinkle Dargani, Krizle Grace Mago, Huang Tzu Yen as well as Chinese businessman Lin Weixiong.

The same names along with DBM official Dickson Panti should also be charged with violations of Sections (e) and (g) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the report indicated.

Gordon said he would release the full committee report after they gather more information from five more individuals being linked to Pharmally.

The committee investigated the transfer of P42 billion COVID-19 funds from the DOH to the PS-DBM.

It looked into the PS-DBM’s purchase of P8.6 billion worth of face masks, face shields, and PPEs from Pharmally, a firm that only had a P625,000 paid-up capital when it entered transactions with the government. —NB, GMA News