Photo from Health Alliance for Democracy
Human rights alliance Karapatan said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s order barring his Cabinet from attending the Senate committee hearings regarding the government’s anomalous transactions with pharmaceutical corporation Pharmally is “nothing more than a desperate attempt to cover up what now appears to be a wide scale corruption scandal involving Duterte’s men.”
“Why is Duterte prohibiting his Cabinet from appearing before the Senate to face these corruption allegations? Any issue involving the use of people’s funds — especially amid this crisis — is a matter of public interest. Stifling investigations into these issues infringes upon the public’s right to know,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay asserted.
Pharmally is the subject of a Senate blue ribbon committee investigation following the revelations that at least PhP8.7 billion of the Department of Health’s fund transfers to the Department of Budget and Management’s procurement service were used for medical supplies contracts. Pharmally is closely associated with Michael Yang, Duterte’s former economic adviser; its executives are wanted in Taiwan.
Palabay continued that “there is simply no denying that the Duterte administration — which has criminally neglected people’s welfare amid the COVID-19 pandemic — is transacting with criminals and fugitives and possibly even engaging in criminal activities by having Duterte and his cronies shamelessly pocket billions for tampered, defective, and substandard yet overpriced medical supplies.”
“People, both patients and health workers, are dying and suffering in hospitals because of low pay and lack of medical equipment and facilities, thousands are suffering from hunger after they lost their jobs but the government is giving only trickles of ayuda, but apparently, that is not the case for Duterte and his men whose pockets have only shamelessly grown fatter in this crisis,” she stated.
“We support efforts in Congress to investigate these allegations and incidents of corruption. As the pandemic continues, it is crucial that we know where our money goes — and that people who pocket public funds at the expense of people’s lives should be prosecuted,” the Karapatan official ended.