THE House committee on good government and public accountability will be “fair, balanced and legal” in reporting the findings of its inquiry into alleged irregularities in the procurement of medical supplies for the government’s pandemic response, its chairman assured on Wednesday.
DIWA Party-list Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay, panel chairman, made the assurance as he announced that the committee report on the recently concluded coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) procurement probe will be out either next month or December this year.
“I assure the public that the committee will be fair, balanced and legal—meaning we will take everything legally,” Aglipay said during the virtual Ugnayan sa Batasan news forum.
“‘Di tayo magpapadala sa emosyon, ibabase natin sa law dahil sa ilalim ng Constitution lahat accorded ng right to due process of law,” he stressed.
Aglipay said the committee won’t rush its findings because it wants all bases covered, as he noted that under the rules, the panel has 60 days to release the report for review and a vote by its members.
“‘Yung committee report ho ilalagay namin ‘yung statement of facts, ‘yung mga arguments, ‘yung mga basis sa law, conclusions and recommendation. Alam nyo very serious itong topic na ito dahil
inaantabayanan ng mga mamamayan natin kung meron bang violation o merong nandaya sa gobyerno,” Aglipay pointed out.
He added: “It will take one month or two months [to prepare the committee report]. It’s minimum of one month so ibig sabihin by November 4 pero hindi namin mamadaliin, and maximum of 60 days or by December 4.”
Aglipay issued the statement after his committee, following four hearings, terminated its motu proprio inquiry into the government’s COVID-19 procurement last October 4.
He said that except for the issue of overpricing, the committee report will tackle “all allegations of fraud and abuse” in the procurement of COVID-19 supplies by the Department of Health (DoH), through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).
“Concluded ko na po na walang overpriced dahil maraming nagsalita including Senator Richard Gordon on the opening statement of the seventh hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon [Committee] sabi niya, ‘payag na ako Mr. President na walang overpriced pero may fraud and abuse,’” Aglipay said, adding that he agreed with the senator “100 percent.”
“Iisa-isahin natin. Hihimay-himayin natin,” he said, referring to allegations of fraud and abuse.
Despite no findings of overpricing, Aglipay clarified that the DoH is not yet totally off the hook especially since there are still other allegations at hand.
“Hindi sila (DoH) off the hook. Besides overpricing meron pang ibang issues: ‘yung nagko-collusion ang PS-DBM at Pharmally, ‘yung mga allegation na ganun. Meron pang ibang mga allegations, around four to five allegations,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Aglipay dismissed insinuations that the retraction statement of former Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. regulatory affairs head Krizle Grace Mago during the October 4 hearing of his committee was scripted.
“Never ko po siyang nakausap prior to the time na nagkita kami sa Nograles Hall. Ang nakausap ko lang ng dalawang beses ‘yung abogado nya,” he explained. “Pangalawa, wala kaming ina-allow na ibang tao na kumausap sa kanya (before the hearing) dahil ayaw namin ang mga allegation na ganito.”
Aglipay also said that the committee is not inclined to accept as ultimate truth the statements made by Mago, who is currently under the protective custody of the House.
“Hindi naman tayo bobo, pinanganak kahapon na kung ano ang sinabi nya ‘yun na ang papaniwalaan natin. We have to take it with a grain of salt. Kailangan natin i-analyze word for word ‘yung statement nya,” Aglipay said.
“Babasahin ko anim na beses. ‘Pag i-corroborate mo ‘yan sa iba’t ibang dokumento at iba’t ibang statement, lalabas din ‘yung katotohanan,” he added.
Aglipay also clarified that the protective custody given by the House to Mago is valid for only two months, or until the committee report is released.