Drilon wants Lao probed by Ombudsman for graft
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Franklin Drilon wants the former head of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman for graft for entering into contracts for the procurement of medical supplies that are “grossly prejudicial” to the government.
During the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee on Friday on the 2020 report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on the spending of the Department of Health (DOH), former PS-DBM chief Lloyd Christopher Lao admitted that he “failed to check on the articles of incorporation” of the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.
Drilon said the company was able to get over P8 billion worth of government contracts despite not having sufficient capital. He also said the company was only incorporated in September 2019.
Senator Risa Hontiveros earlier said the PS-DBM awarded a contract for PPEs worth P3.8 billion to Pharmally in May 2020 alone.
Drilon said Lao’s “admission” of not having exercised prudence in checking the capability of the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation is a ground for violation of the anti-graft law.
“Given the testimony of Mr. Lao that he did not exercise prudence in checking the capability of a six-month corporation with a paid-up capital of less than P600,000 to be awarded negotiated contracts of over P8 billion, which turns out to be overpriced, to me, these are all indications or at the very least a prima facie case for the violation of the anti-graft law,” he said.
“Because by the admission by Mr. Lao, he did not exercise the prudence needed to guard the public funds and he should be investigated by the Ombudsman for possible violation of the anti-graft law for awarding contracts disadvantageous to the government and not exercising necessary prudence to prevent the losses of government funds for having failed to check on simple things,” Drilon added.
“In view of this, may I move that the matter of these particular transactions entered into by Mr. Lao, where he admitted that he did not exercise diligence, be referred to the Ombudsman for appropriate investigation under the anti-graft law,” the senator further said.
Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, agreed with Drilon’s submission.
The discussion on the PPE procurement unfolded as the Senate panel looked into the COA report which found deficiencies, caused by non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations, on how the DOH managed its P67.32-billion fund to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
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