STRAIGHT TALK

BY ED LIBRANDA


More Congressional Investigations

During Election Season

 

Filipino voters have watched Congressional inquiries, especially in the Senate where Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the BlueRibbon Committee, is currently investigating the government’s purchase of allegedly overpriced medical supplies for the pandemic response.


The Department of Health (DOH), through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM), purchased allegedly overpriced medical supplies fromPharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation. The company bagged over P8.6 billion worth of contracts from the government in 2020 despite having a paid-up capital of just P625,000 and being incorporated only in 2019.


Gordon is reportedly planning to run for vice president, the same post that President Rodrigo Duterte said he would run for in the 2022 polls. Duterte has recently accepted the endorsement of one of the two warring factions of PDP-Laban.


The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was recently ousted by the rival camp led by Senators Manny Pacquiao and Aquino Pimentel III. Pacquiao’s group questioned the legality of the election of Duterte and Cusi as party chairman and president, respectively.


Why is Pimentel keen on pushing the presidential ambition of Pacquiao? Is there a special relationship between them? It appears that their camp is up to something for the 2022 elections.


I just can't understand why the boxer-turned senator from Mindanao has questioned the moral ascendancy of the head of the ruling party?


As it turned out, it was an ill-advised decision to start the ball rolling in Pacquiao's presidential bid by raising the issue of corruption in the Duterte administration. But why now when he knew all along that he would engage in a boxing match last month?


Pacquiao was defeated by Cuban boxer Yodernis Ugas, an Olympic bronze medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Filipino boxing icon is now back in Manila, and surprisingly his tirade against President Duterte has gone nowhere.


Media mileage could also be one of the reasons. Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who has announced his presidential bid with Senate President Tito Sotto as running mate, has joined Gordon in the Blue Ribbon investigation on Pharmally executives linked to former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang.


And now, President Duterte has raised the issue of why the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), headed by Gordon, has not been audited by the Commission On Audit (COA) when, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the PRC has been getting subsidies from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), a government agency and under the Office of the President (OP).


Even the OP has not been notified nor been given a copy of any audit report from COA. 


Gordon should remember—and I know he is a very smart and knowledgeable senator—that the PRC is being subsidized by government funds through PCSO and therefore is not exempted from COA’s annual auditing.
But as the old saying goes, "You scratch my back and I will scratch your back too."


This Senate investigation into the government contracts awarded Phormally will be among the issues that the opposition will throw against the President, who said would run for vice president. 


But wait for the announcement of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, whose supposed candidacy for the presidency has been derailed by her father.


She has repeatedly said that she would not run for a national position if her father runs for vice president. But as I have said in my previous column, I will not be surprised if the tandem of Mayor Duterte and former senator Bongbong Marcos emerged as the most popular in the 2022 national elections.


The Go-Duterte tandem will give way should Sara and Bongbong run for president and vice president, respectively. Expect a landslide victory for the "team made in heaven" and President Duterte can rest assured that his Build, Build, Build infrastructure program will be in good hands.

 ED LIBRANDA.