Mago says Senate testimony a ‘pressured response’
PHARMALLY Pharmaceutical Corp. regulatory affairs head Krizle Grace Mago on Monday described as a “pressured response” her Senate testimony that her company might have “swindled” the government over the procurement of medical face shields for health workers.
“Given the level of pressure I was under and the rush of emotions associated with the allegations and my subsequent admission, I was not in the best frame of mind to think clearly,” Mago said at the continuation of the investigation by the House committee on good government and public accountability.
Sagip party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta alleged that the ongoing Senate probe on the procurement of pandemic items is like a military interrogation and prosecution.
“It was actually, in my view, not an investigation in aid of legislation but it seems to me it was an interrogation similar to the questioning employed by the military establishment, law enforcement officers, even intelligence agencies. These are the means employed in exacting information by said agencies and groups,” Marcoleta said during
“You ended up publicly humiliated, you ended up like you were an accused… It was not the proper investigation in aid of legislation as enunciated in the Constitution, but it was an interrogation, it was prosecution actually, did you notice that?” Marcoleta said in asking Mago who responded affirmatively.
Mago, who has been under the protective custody of the House since October 1, also denied allegations that Pharmally delivered expired, substandard and tampered COVID-19 supplies to the government.
It was the first time Mago appeared before the House panel after she allegedly went missing following her controversial admission in the Senate that Pharmally changed the expiration dates on the face shields distributed to medical frontliners last year.
An emotional Mago said her experience with the Senate was “extremely traumatic” having been repeatedly accused of lying and threatened with contempt.
In fact, she noted that another Pharmally executive, Linconn Ong, is currently detained in the Senate for contempt after declining to testify in an executive session.
“Personally, I was perplexed as to how I could be perceived as a liar when I was simply responding directly to questions based on facts reflected on the records, which I even promptly forwarded to the committee upon request,” Mago said.
Mago revealed she contracted coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) during the course of the Senate hearings, which resulted in a decline in her physical health.
“Additionally, the overwhelming pressure and intense scrutiny of the investigations have had a detrimental effect on my mental health,” Mago said.
“Over and above these, my personal mobile phone number and address were also revealed, resulting in unwanted harassment and distressing messages,” she added.
Bothered by Mago’s experience testifying in the Senate, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta assured her that the House panel would never “traumatize” witnesses. “Gusto namin malaya at boluntaryo ang isasagot sa mga tanong namin,” Marcoleta said.
The House official also lamented how the witnesses in the Senate were subjected to a barrage of questions, which he viewed as “not an investigation in aid of legislation.”
“It seems to me it was an interrogation similar to the questioning employed by military establishment, law enforcement officers, and even intelligence agencies or organized crime syndicates,” Marcoleta pointed out. “These are the means employed in exacting information by said agencies and groups.”
For his part, committee chair DIWA Party-list Rep. Michael Edgardo Aglipay assured that the House “do not resort to bullying and intimation.”
“The House Blue Ribbon Committee has and will always be for freedom of speech, justice and fair play,” Aglipay said.
Aglipay, meanwhile, noted that Mago went to the House “in her own free will and volition” to seek protective custody.
“The House of Representatives is the House of the People, and we shall not refuse citizens who seek refuge and help from us,” Aglipay said.
The House is currently conducting a motu proprio investigation on the Commission on Audit (CoA) report on the COVID-19 funds transferred by the Department of Health (DoH) to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) and the alleged overpricing of the face masks, protective personal equipment and face shields utilized by the DoH.
In previous House hearings, it was established that the face shields were not overpriced at all with no less than CoA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo testified that there was “no finding of overpricing” in the subject annual audit report of the poll body.
Committee members were also convinced that the government was never put at a disadvantage when it purchased from Pharmally around two million face shields distributed to medical frontliners.
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III had earlier testified before the House that the face shields were “properly distributed to and utilized by health workers.”
Duque also clarified that the established shelf life of face shields is 36 months or three years.