Senate probe of Pharmally won’t hurt nation, say Sotto
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III disputed President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that the Senate probe of the alleged misuse of taxpayer money would “destroy the government” and harm the nation.
“Any investigation, as long as the truth comes out, will not harm the nation,” Sotto told journalists at The Ruins in Talisay City on Thursday.
“I don’t see why we should stop the investigation when we know very well that we cannot see how the money is being spent,” Sotto said after the president barred Cabinet officials from attending the Senate probe.
The Senate blue ribbon committee has been looking into the Department of Health’s handling of pandemic funds and uncovered questionable transactions involving a company linked to former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang.
According to Sotto, the committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, is expected to come out with its report either this month or in October.
For his part, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who was with Sotto in Talisay City, expressed dismay at the “sorry state of our country today.”
“Our priority should be to attend to our people’s needs,” said Lacson, who has declared his intention to run for president next year with Sotto as his running mate. “In the middle of a pandemic, some people still have the guts to earn so much money.”
Lacson and Sotto were only two of several senators who were aghast at the revelations at the Senate probe and how Duterte has been scrambling to discredit the findings of the investigation.
The president has also resorted to public insults against senators who uncovered the manner Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., a company linked to Yang, bagged a total of P8.68 billion worth of deals.
When Gordon rejected Palace overtures to tone down, if not totally stop, the investigation, Duterte began to insult the senator, accused him of corruption, and ordered the solicitor general to investigate the Philippine Red Cross.
But Gordon on Sunday asked the President to spare the two million volunteers and front-liners of the Red Cross, who continue to risk life and limb while the Senate probes the swanky sports cars bought by top Pharmally executives.
“Mr. President, don’t trample on the work of our people, most of whom are volunteers,” Gordon said during the Red Cross’ online anniversary celebration of its molecular laboratory in Cagayan de Oro City.
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