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Roque hits Senate blue ribbon ‘persecution paper’ on Duterte, allies

Harry Roque

UniTeam senatorial candidate Harry Roque today said the draft Senate Blue Ribbon committee report on the alleged multibillion-peso Pharmally scandal was a “persecution report” meant to malign President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies “in aid of re-election” by an election survey tailender.

Roque said the draft report was just scraps of paper unless approved by the Senate.

“It is the product of an opinion poll laggard’s desperate attempt to be politically relevant this election season,” Roque said without mentioning the senator’s name.

“If the Senator believes that throwing mud at President Duterte and, by extension, his endorsed candidates would inspire the electorate to vote for him in May, then he is seriously wrong,” Roque stressed.

On Tuesday, the Senate blue ribbon panel has recommended the filing of graft and plunder charges against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, former procurement officials, Pharmally executives and Chinese businessman Michael Yang regarding anomalous pandemic-related supply deals.

The committee, led by Senator Richard Gordon, made the recommendation in a draft partial committee report released to reporters.

Roque dismissed the “flawed legal reasoning” in the draft report, saying the emergency procurement modality under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (RA 11469) mentioned in the report supersedes the Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184).

Roque explained that when Congress approved the Bayanihan Act, it exempted the expeditious purchase of medical and pharmaceutical supplies from the procurement law during the pandemic.

In particular, he blasted the committee’s recommendation to file charges against Duterte after his term for allegedly condoning the misdeeds of appointees and associates involved in the Pharmally controversy.

“It is preposterous of the blue ribbon committee to hold the President accountable just because he appointed the budget department personnel that they want to charge with graft and plunder,” chided Roque.

“This is an obvious political play on guilt by association,” Roque said. “The senator wants to ascribe the so-called guilt of the alleged offenders on the President, but I do not think this would help his re-election bid in any way.”

Roque said that legislation was absent in the report.

He also doubted whether the report could establish a strong graft and plunder case against the individuals involved in the issue.

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