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Drilon scores Palace ploy to shift blame on PPE fund mess

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SENATE Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Thursday tore into what he called the administration’s ploy to shift the blame on multibillion fund transfers involving pandemic-related purchases by questioning transactions in the time of President Noynoy Aquino, a partymate of Drilon.

Sought for reaction on Secretary Harry Roque’s move to turn the tables on Drilon by dragging in the Aquino administration, the senator said the Senate probers will pursue the issues involving P42-billion transfer of funds from the Department of Health to a controversial procurement unit of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), whose negotiated contracts were flagged by state auditors.

“We will not be distracted,” stressed Drilon in a TV interview, adding: “Secretary Roque, you act like a troll…. You should be man enough to know that when a P625,000 company would be awarded supply contracts of over P8.6 billion in two months’ time, there is a whiff of corruption that you should be man enough to admit merits an investigation.”

Drilon added: “You [Sec. Roque] cite the purchases by the DOH during the Aquino administration. That’s five years ago, Sir. Number two, there was no Commission on Audit (COA) report of questionable transactions. So, please, please. We will not be distracted and we will get to the bottom of this.”

The Senate Minority Leader also revealed that in the continuing Senate investigation, they unearthed that the controversial “fund transfer” involved was more than P42 billion of taxpayer money as earlier reported.

“On the basis of the report of the PS-DBM, P47.7-billion was moved over to PS-DBM from DOH,” Drilon said, adding: “According to the COA, there was no documentation. Now that we have started to investigate, it is precisely because of this transfer and the lack of documentation that the planned plunder took place.”

Noting that  “this Pharmally is capitalized at P625,000,” the senator recalled Presidential Spokesman Roque saying, “Hindi baleng mababa basta naka-deliver.”

Drilon, in turn, told the Palace spokesman: “Secretary Roque, I would invite you to read your law because among the standards required are the legal and financial capacity of the company entering a contract with the government.

That’s one. Number two, this company has only P625,000. How did it, in heaven’s name, generate and was able to enter into contract supply agreements worth P8.67 billion?”

The Senate Minority Leader added: “They could respond they were just indenting; they are traders. Alright. Did the government have to enter into that kind of set-up? Kailangan ba ng middle man dito? Why do you have to go to a middle man? Why not do a government-to-government transaction? Please answer that. I assume, the net income of Pharmally of over P284 million in 2020 all came from commissions. If there was a government-to-government transaction, without a middle, the government would have saved P284 million as commission, as fees of Pharmally. This is a question that must be answered.”

At the same time, Drilon dodged the question on whether he thought the firm was favored because its backer, businessman Michael Yang, was a friend of the President and was one time a presidential adviser. “All I will say is Pharmally, on the face of the document, is favored. It does not require much intelligence to realize that if you have P625,000, common sense, but more important due diligence, would have told you that you should not award supply agreements worth P8.7 billion in a span of two months to this company.”

Asked about potential liability of administration allies in the controversial transaction, Drilon replied: “From what I understand, first, it was Secretary Duque who authorized the transfer of P42 billion. Therefore, it was because of that transfer, without MOA (Memorandum of Agreement), that allowed [PS-DBM head, Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher] Lao to do the shenanigans that it appears to have been done. I suspect that it is a part of the planned scheme from the very start to commit this grand corruption.”

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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