CAMP CRAME, Quezon City – Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima maintained that Filipinos should not stop demanding accountability from all those responsible for what she called a “Public-Private Sector Partnership for Plunder” led allegedly by President Rodrigo Duterte and his former adviser Michael Yang, together with the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
In a statement from her detention cell at Camp Crame, De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said it is now high time for the Ombudsman to start its preliminary investigation of the conspiracy between PS-DBM officials led by ex-Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao and Pharmally as led by Chinese businessman Michael Yang.

“The Pharmally investigation has gone this far for us to discover that the crime did not only result in figuratively killing the people by way of plundering public funds during a pandemic, but also literally when expired face shields were delivered for the use of our healthcare workers.”

“Ilan kaya ang namatay sa COVID na mga nars, doktor, at iba pang nagtatrabaho sa mga ospital dahil sa mga depektibong kagamitan na binenta ng ulupong na Pharmally sa mga ahas sa PS-DBM?” she asked.

“We should not stop until all those responsible for this plunder which cost lives are brought to justice. If only for this one time, we should not falter in seeking merciless retribution against these sociopaths at the PS-DBM and Pharmally who stole from our countrymen and killed our healthcare workers in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

Congressional hearings revealed that Pharmally has bagged over P10 billion worth of government contracts, including the purchase of allegedly overpriced, expired, or useless medical supplies for COVID-19.

De Lima said the Blue Ribbon Committee led by Sen. Richard Gordon already “has way more than a smoking gun to pin the culprits down to the very bowels of the earth.”

“After the admission of a Pharmally executive that they faked the expiration dates on face shields, and after the PS-DBM got caught tampering with the documents by deleting them from the virtual drive in the last hearing, the conspiracy between PS-DBM as led by former Usec Lao and Pharmally as led by Michael Yang as its benefactor is already established beyond reasonable doubt,” she said.

“There is no longer escaping the inevitable conclusion that PS-DBM and Pharmally conspired to plunder more than 10 billion pesos of the people’s money by keeping on paying billions to undercapitalized Pharmally and letting them deliver even without purchase orders and awarded contracts,” she added.

De Lima said instances like these happen only in a conspiracy, when top government officials connive with the contractor to create a public-private sector partnership for the plunder of government coffers which she believes goes all the way up to Malacañang.

“That is why the lawyer for Usec Lao, Michael Yang and the Pharmally executives is none other than President Duterte. He will not do this if he was not at the top of the chain of conspiracy,” she said.

The lady Senator from Bicol stressed that the Ombudsman should now go beyond hiding Duterte’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) from the people and finally start investigating him and his “gang of thieves.”