House panel chair ‘sad’ over Senate try to ‘destroy’ Duterte’s credibility
MANILA, Philippines — The chairperson of the House committee on good government and public accountability has expressed “sadness” over the Senate’s alleged attempt to destroy the credibility of President Rodrigo Duterte in its investigation into the alleged overpriced pandemic response supplies.
During the hearing on Wednesday, DIWA party-list Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay admitted that he invited Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva to shed light on resurfaced accusations that Chinese businessman Michael Yang is connected to the illegal drug trade.
Yang, President Rodrigo Duterte’s former economic adviser, is on the hot seat again after the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing linked him to Pharmally’s finances.
“Kasi nalulungkot lang ako, lahat na lang — hearing dapat tungkol sa DOH, DBM, napunta tayo sa drugs. Kaya nga I had to invite you to counter what the Senate is doing to destroy our President,” Aglipay said towards the end of the hearing.
“Because they are doing it, might as well here, I, put it in the other matters to rebut their theory. So thank you, Director-General Wilkins,” he added.
Villanueva was present in the House hearing and showed the same presentation he made during President Rodrigo Duterte’s Tuesday briefing which cleared Yang of drug trade links.
At present, both the House panel and the Senate blue ribbon committee are conducting separate motu propio investigations on the alleged overpriced pandemic response supplies, which stemmed from a Commission on Audit (COA) report on the COVID-19 funds of the Department of Health (DOH).
The Senate blue ribbon committee was able to extract information from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. officials that Michael Yang had guaranteed for them, and provided them with financial help.
Pharmally managed to bag P8.7 billion worth of contracts in 2020 despite only having a P625,000 capital.
To prove that Yang knew Pharmally officials, an old video showing Yang with a certain Allan Lim or Lin Wei Xiong, Pharmally president Huang Tzu Yen, Pharmally director Linconn Ong, and President Rodrigo Duterte resurfaced during the hearing.
Senator Risa Hontiveros then asked if the Allan Lim in the video is the same Allan Lim implicated in the intelligence reports sent out by former police Col. Eduardo Acierto. Yang said he does not know.
But on Tuesday, President Duterte maintained that it is ironic to use Acierto’s statements especially since the blue ribbon committee back then, also chaired by current chairperson Senator Richard Gordon, claimed that there was no sufficient evidence to prove the claims.
Sagip party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta on Wednesday also asked if the Senate blue ribbon committee does not believe the clarifications made by COA, as COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo himself noted that their report did not indicate any corruption or overpricing.
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