Duterte to Senate blue ribbon: Why are you listening to dismissed cop Acierto?
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is bewildered why the Senate blue ribbon committee is even listening to former police Col. Eduardo Acierto in discussing procurement issues, adding that the official has been dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Duterte noted on Tuesday that Acierto has been dismissed twice — for his role in the anomalous Philippine National Police (PNP) gun licensing deal and in the alleged sale of AK-47 rifles to communist rebels.
Acierto’s name popped up during the committee hearings about Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., after senators asked whether the person seen with Pharmally officials, Chinese businessman Michael Yang, and President Duterte is a certain Allan Lim who was implicated by the ex-cop as involved in the drug trade.
“At isa pa (Another one). I am surprised that one of the resource persons, the tragedy is that you are listening to him? And I do not understand why the Senate is listening to the person of Acierto,” Duterte said.
“Acierto was dismissed by the Ombudsman twice, first for his role in his role in the obvious P100 million deal with Werfast. For this was later reversed, he was finally dismissed for his role in the importation and selling of more than 1,000 AK-47 to the NPA rebels,” he added.
According to Duterte, it pains him the most that the police officers the Senate is listening to was actually the reason for the increased capabilities of the New People’s Army — noting that the firearms could have been used to attack government troopers.
“Ito ang masakit sa akin, kaya ako galit din talaga kay Acierto among others, dito ako napipika talaga, palagi ko itong sinasabi, na siya ‘yong was one of those responsible for the importation (of firearms),” the President noted.
(This is what pains me the most. This is the reason why I am also mad at Acierto, among others, this is why I am pissed off, I always say this, that he was one of those responsible for the importation of firearms.)
Acierto made a report in 2019 implicating Duterte’s businessmen allies Yang and Lim as supposedly involved in the drug trade. But Duterte then cleared Yang, insisting that even the Chinese government would vouch for the person.
During the Senate hearing last Friday, Yang said that he does not know a person by the name of Allan Lim, adding that he only knew a certain Lin Wei Xiong. This was after the senators noted that Pharmally president Huang Tzu Yen and director Linconn Ong were present in the video with Yang and Lim.
Duterte again vouched for Yang in his briefing, noting that he was only a businessman who was in Davao City. According to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva, Yang has no derogatory record within PDEA and the Philippine National Police.
Pharmally is the subject of a senate blue ribbon committee inquiry, after it was revealed that at least P8.7 billion of the Department of Health’s fund transfers to the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (PS-DBM) were used for contracts with the trading company.
Gordon’s committee has been probing Pharmally for possible overpriced supplies and, more recently, its financial origins as it questioned how the firm was able to bag billions of contracts with just a capital of P625,000.
Among those being investigated are officials of Pharmally and Yang.
According to Gordon, it appears that Yang, former presidential economic adviser, is well-involved in Pharmally’s finances as officials have already admitted that he was helping the firm finance so that it can transact with government.
During the hearing on Monday, Gordon asked Ong to explain where they got the funds for each contract they entered with the government, for the supply of pandemic equipment like face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE).
In two instances — transactions involving P3.82 billion and P2.877 billion — Ong said that he sought help from Yang to mount the needed funds.
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