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Senators rebut Mago’s testimony at the House: ‘The greatest pressure is to lie’

/ 03:42 PM October 04, 2021
Senators rebut Mago's testimony at the House: 'The greatest pressure is to lie'

Krizle Grace Mago —SENATE SCREENGRAB

MANILA, Philippines — Several senators on Monday refuted the testimony of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. official Krizle Mago at the House of Representatives.

Mago, during a hearing by the House committee on good government and public accountability, said she was pressured into admitting that Pharmally, which bagged multi-billion pesos pandemic supplies deals, might have “swindled” the government.

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Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said in a message to reporters: “She was under pressure, she says? But the questions posed to her were delivered in calm and very measured manners.”

Mago first testified before the Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry on Pharmally’s dealings with the government, stemming from a Commission on Audit report which found at least P67.32 billion worth of “deficiencies” in the pandemic fund of the Department of Health (DOH) last year.

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“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, can she still go away?]” he added.

Before breaking contact with the Senate last September 24, Mago admitted during a blue ribbon panel hearing that she was ordered to instruct warehouse staff to change the expiration dates on the face shields meant for delivery to the DOH.

READ: Pharmally employee believes firm ‘swindled’ gov’t in delivery of face shields

Following Mago’s admission, Gordon asked her if Pharmally was “swindling the government,” she answered, “I believe so.”

But During Monday’s House hearing, Mago backtracked and said her testimony in the Senate was a “pressured response.”

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Mago’s admission  before the Senate came 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, a former chief of the Department of Justice, said.

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Senate Francis Pangilinan likened Mago to a “rehearsed witness,” and flagged alleged efforts to twist her previous testimonies during the House hearing while Senator Panfilo Lacson said he doubts her recantation would affect the finding of the Senate blue ribbon panel.

“She definitely lied under oath,” Lacson said.

“She already testified freely and voluntarily as the records will bear us out.”

“The [transcript] is the best evidence that she was not under pressure when she admitted to [having] relayed the instruction to the warehouseman to change the production dates of the medical supplies…That is a matter of record,” he added.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, for her part, stressed that Mago made her statement in the upper chamber under oath.

“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, in fact, 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 sad 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.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, meanwhile, said Mago is risking her credibility in recanting 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 have 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 feel pressured because she was face-to-face with a senator.)

KGA

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TAGS: face shield, investigation, Krizle Mago, pandemic, Pharmally, Senate blue ribbon committee, senators
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