Carpio: Duterte liable in supplies stink for tapping PAF planes
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte cannot escape accountability in the allegedly irregular transactions between the government and an undercapitalized company that won P11.7 billion worth of contracts for pandemic supplies as he had ordered the military to transport these safety gear from China, a retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Friday.
It was Sen. Panfilo Lacson who first disclosed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines had deployed a C-130 cargo plane to fly these items from China.
“The place of delivery in purchase orders were warehouses in Metro Manila. AFP planes and Philippine Navy ships picked up the goods in China,” Carpio pointed out during an online forum of 1Sambayan opposition coalition.
“Philippine Marines’ trucks were used to transport the goods from the airport or seaport to government warehouses,” he said. “Only President Duterte could have ordered the AFP planes and Navy ship to go to China.”
Palace: Not Pharmally’s
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Carpio was mistaken as the military aircraft was not used to deliver the pandemic supplies purchased by the government from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which is at the center of a Senate inquiry for its allegedly overpriced face masks and shields, personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 test kits.
The Senate is investigating the transfer of at least P42 billion in pandemic funds from the Department of Health to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM), which negotiated the supply deals with Pharmally and other companies.
“The president ordered the use of our C-130 for the PPE. But this was not the PPE supplied by Pharmally, there were other suppliers,” Roque said during a televised briefing.
According to him, Pharmally’s contract stipulated that the company would handle the delivery of the items it supplied to the government.
“Their contract included the cost, the insurance and the transportation, which was why it was a very good deal for the government because we did not make a downpayment and they would only be paid if they delivered the items to the Philippines and it was accepted by the government,” Roque said.
He did not say whether the other suppliers, which he did not identify, had different contract stipulations.
The president admitted in his televised address to the people on Wednesday that he ordered the use of the military’s C-130 aircraft for the delivery of pandemic supplies from China as there was an urgent need for the items.
“I said, ‘Use any means you want. Deliver it by land, water, or air.’ I gave the order because I want it to be done quickly,” he said.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said the C-130 plane flew 43 sorties to collect the PPE from China as there were no flights available in April last year, a month into the declaration of the national health emergency.
Delivery sans contract
Galvez said the government also “borrowed” Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific planes to haul the supplies to the Philippines.
During a Senate hearing last week, a Pharmally incorporator was found to have disclosed that the trading company had delivered 2 million surgical masks in late March last year even before they agreed to a price and that on April 6, 2020, it delivered 500,000 more before it signed its first deal with the PS-DBM. It was unclear where and how Pharmally obtained the masks.
“The transactions of Pharmally with the PS-DBM have what lawyers call badges of fraud,” said Carpio, lead convener of 1Sambayan.
He cited the admission of former PS-DBM inspection division chief Jorge Mendoza III that he was told to sign two inspection reports before he could even check the actual delivery of the supplies, which were then still in China.
“So that’s clearly falsification of a public document,” Carpio said. “There will be many other [possible cases]. But we have to [wait] as the Senate investigation unfolds.”
Catholic priest Albert Alejo, also a convener of 1Sambayan, urged the relatives, friends, former classmates and the alma maters of public officials implicated in various corruption allegations to speak up and convince them to stop pillaging the state coffers.
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