House panel chair: Senate getting down to destroy presidential candidates
MANILA, Philippines — The chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on good government and public accountability has accused the Senate of getting down to its business of destroying the chances of leading presidential candidates, as it has done in the past.
Committee chair and DIWA party-list Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay said during Monday’s hearing that the Senate blue ribbon committee in the past has done investigations before the presidential elections meant to destroy frontrunners.
Aglipay was referring to the hearings against former Senate president Manny Villar and then Vice President Jejomar Binay — both leading candidates in the 2010 and 2016 polls, respectively, who lost in the race.
“We all know very well that what is happening in the Senate is what usually is done before the next presidential elections. And I dare say that in the Senate blue ribbon committee hearings, we see and hear at least four potential presidential or vice presidential candidates who savor every minute they can get from free TV coverage and publicity,” Aglipay said.
“Tulad nga ng sabi nila, ito po ay nagiging aid of election, not in aid of legislation. You have seen this before, the Senate blue ribbon committee holds highly publicized hearings six to eight months before the presidential elections. It is like clockwork, to topple the frontliner in the next elections,” he claimed.
This is not the first time Aglipay and House lawmakers accused Senate members of capitalizing in the issue for their own interests. Last Tuesday, Aglipay said that he is “sad” over the Senate’s attempt to destroy President Rodrigo Duterte’s credibility by linking him to the illegal drug trade.
Aglipay also chided the Congress’ upper chamber for wasting time, as several hearings spanning long hours have been allocated to the same topic.
“Iba po ang storya sa Senado. In the Senate, a total of seven hearings have been held by the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on this, more than 50 hours have been spent on the same subject, paikot-ikot na lang po ang usapan,” he noted.
“This job must be done swiftly, expeditiously, without any fanfare, not for media mileage, and never in aid of election or reelection. Trabaho lang po,” he asserted.
The committee chair was referring to the blue ribbon committee’s investigation on alleged overpriced pandemic supplies provided by Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., where Chinese businessman Michael Yang’s name popped up.
It was revealed that Yang guaranteed for Pharmally when it cannot yet pay its dues to Chinese suppliers, while also pumping funds into the company.
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 is the same Allan Lim implicated in the intelligence reports sent out by dismissed cop, former Col. Eduardo Acierto.
But President Duterte and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 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.
As of now, both the House and the Senate are conducting separate motu propio investigations on the alleged overpriced pandemic supplies, which stemmed from a Commission on Audit (COA) report on DOH’s COVID-19 funds.
According to COA, P67.32 billion of DOH’s funds contained deficiencies, including P42 billion fund transfers made by the Department mostly to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).
Pharmally managed to bag P8.7 billion worth of contracts in 2020 despite only having a P625,000 capital, and sold face masks at over P27 per piece while a local supplier gave it for P13.
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