'He must be held accountable': Senate panel draft report recommends charges vs Duterte after term | Inquirer News

‘He must be held accountable’: Senate panel draft report recommends charges vs Duterte after term

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 08:44 PM February 01, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The possible filing of charges against President Rodrigo Duterte after he steps down from office has been recommended by the Senate blue ribbon committee in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of pandemic-related supplies.

The recommendation was contained in a 113-page draft report released Tuesday by the office of Senator Richard Gordon, who is leading the probe on government’s deals with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp as chairman of the committee.

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Gordon’s panel recognized that the President, while in office, enjoys immunity from suit.

“However, at some point after his term of office, charges must be considered against President Rodrigo Duterte for what has transpired in this great anomaly,” the draft report read.

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“After all, he was the one who appointed all the people who approved these transactions and aggressively protected and defended them when they were caught in this horrible crime against our people.

“In the course of doing so, the President attempted to diminish the Senate and COA (Commission on Audit), institutions that safeguard our democracy and integrity,” it added.

When the panel was starting its probe on the issue, Duterte lashed at COA, which found deficiencies on how the Department of (DOH) managed its P67.32-billion fund to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The panel also accused Duterte of betraying public trust for allegedly threatening senators, for his supposed “non-action on this gargantuan scam, and in a time of grave danger, his cover-up efforts, his tyrannical use of presidential powers to prevent officials and employees from participating in the hearings.

Duterte had issued a memorandum barring his Cabinet officials from attending the blue ribbon hearings.

“Worse, the President possibly broke the law by tolerating, this greatest of scams that has resulted in untold human tragedy,” the draft report further said.

It then cited how Duterte supposedly “allowed, tolerated, if not encouraged, the participation of his intimate friend Michael Yang, a foreign national, in financing the Pharmally contracts.”

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Yang, who served as Duterte’s economic adviser, allegedly help financed Pharmally. He denied the allegation.

The draft report also noted the President’s admission that he himself had ordered the transfer of P42 billion from the DOH to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) for the purchase of supplies for use against Covid-19.

Pharmally bagged over P8.6 billion in 2020 alone from the said P42 billion fund for pandemic-related supplies.

PS-DBM was then headed by Duterte’s trusted man, Lloyd Christopher Lao, the panel also pointed out.

“The tragedy in all of these is this realization: that all these acts of malfeasance, misfeasance, and/or non-feasance were consummated and undertaken with brazenness under the nose of the President,” the draft report said

As Chief Executive, the panel said Duterte should have known what his appointees and friends were doing.

“If he did not know prior to the Senate investigation, then it certainly came to his attention when the hearings were underway,” it said.

But instead of investigating the matter or supporting any such investigation, the committee said the President “chose to defend and protect those closest to him who had dipped their fingers into the coffers of the nation.”

“Unfortunately, based on the President’s own behavior, one cannot help but conclude that he was aware of, allowed, and condoned the misdeeds of his closest associates and appointees. For this, he must be held accountable,” the panel added.

The draft report released to the media was so far signed by Gordon. It can only be reported out to the Senate plenary once signed by the majority of the members of the committee.

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TAGS: Blue Ribbon, Controversy, corruption, Pharmally, Richard Gordon, Rodrigo Duterte, Senate
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