Mago recants statement on Pharmally ‘swindling,’ now says it’s a ‘pressured response’
MANILA, Philippines — Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. executive Krizle Grace Mago backtracked on Monday, and now said that her previous revelation that her company was swindling the government when it sold damaged medical-grade face shields was a “pressured response.”
Mago made the remark during the hearing of the House committee on good government and public accountability.
“Regarding my previous testimonies on questions pertaining to swindling the government, I do admit it was a pressured response,” Mago said.
“Given the level of pressure I was under and the rush of emotions associated with the allegations made and my subsequent admission, I was not in the best frame of mind to think clearly,” she added.
Mago, then under questioning by Sen. Richard Gordon during the hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, earlier claimed the company might have “swindled” the government when it changed the expiration dates on the face shields it delivered.
In the Senate hearing, Mago likewise confirmed the claim of a Pharmally warehouse employee that they were ordered to replace the certificates of face shields dated 2020 with new certificates dated 2021.
After her bombshell admission in the Senate, Mago was incommunicado for a few days until the House committee on good government and public accountability suddenly announced that it now had custody of the Pharmally executive, and that she is now in a secure location within the House complex.
Senators hit back
Several senators disputed Mago’s testimony in the House of Representatives.
“She was under pressure, she says? But the questions posed to her were delivered in calm and very measured manners,” Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said in a message to reporters.
A Commission on Audit report found P67.32 billion in “deficiencies” in the Department of Health (DOH) pandemic fund last year, which led Mago to testify before the Senate blue ribbon committee.
“That she recanted? What do you expect—she has been taken into the bosom of Pharmally and interests protective of the administrations’ interest- no matter how vile. Nakipagyakapan na siya sa demonyo, makakawala pa ba iyan? [She has already embraced the demon, is there still a way for her to break free?]” Gordon added.
The last time that Mago spoke to the Senate was during a blue ribbon panel hearing. She admitted to being instructed to change the expiration dates on the face shields meant for delivery to the Department of Health during the period from September 24 to 24.
Gordon asked Mago if Pharmally was swindling the government after she admitted it, and she said, “I believe so.”
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Mago’s admission to Senate was made with “no trace of pressure being exerted.”
“The statement was on video, under oath. Note that she did not deny making the statement that the government was swindled. Her statement that ‘she’s not in the best frame of mind to think clearly’ is totally self-serving, and does not have any value and cannot be corroborated,” Drilon.
Senate Francis Pangilinan likened Mago to a “rehearsed witness,” and flagged alleged efforts to twist her previous Senate testimonies during the House hearing.
“She definitely lied under oath,” Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, said.
He also doubts that Mago’s retraction will affect the findings of the blue ribbon committee.
“She already testified freely and voluntarily as the records will bear us out,” Lacson said.
“The [transcript] is the best evidence that she was not under pressure when she admitted to have relayed the instruction to the warehouseman to change the production dates of the medical supplies…That is a matter of record,” he added.
As for Senator Risa Hontiveros, she reiterated that Mago made her statement while under oath in the upper chamber.
“Questions were only directed to her and she, in fact, answered forthrightly. Kung mayroon mang nagpe-pressure sa kanya, ‘yan siguro ay isang napakamakapangyarihang pwersa para lang bawiin ang kanyang mga naunang sinabi sa amin,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
(Questions were only directed to her and she answered forthrightly. If someone is pressuring her, it is probably a powerful force just for her to retract the testimony she first made before us.)
“Pressured response? It is said that Ms. Mago feels this way. Telling the truth is a relief. The greatest pressure is to lie. Ngunit naniniwala akong lalabas at lalabas ang katotohanan. Sana lang, sa huli, manaig ang kanyang konsensya [But I believe that the truth will come out. I just hope that, in the end, her conscience will prevail],” she added.
In the meantime, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III argued Mago could be losing credibility by renouncing her Senate testimony.
“Kung anuman ang sasabihin nya from now on medyo magdududa na tayo,” Pimentel said.
The senator also noted that the blue ribbon committee hearings had been done online.
“Ibig sabihin nun walang taga-senado, o walang taga-Senate blue ribbon committee o walang senador na nandon sa kwarto kung nasaan siya, at mape-pressure ka dahil nakaharap mo ‘yung tao,” he pointed out.
(This means that no one from the Senate, no one from the Senate blue ribbon committee, or no one senator was with her in the room where she was then, and felt pressured because she was face-to-face with a senator.)
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