By Wilnard Bacelonia

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros believes that former president Rodrigo R. Duterte should be included in the ongoing investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman on Pharmally deals with the government.

In a statement, Hontiveros said Duterte should be included in the probe after former Health secretary Francisco Duque III told the House Committee on Appropriations Monday that the former president ordered the transfer of PHP47.6 billion from the Department of Health to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) for the purchase of Covid-19 supplies in 2020.

“Since Duque made this statement under oath, former President Duterte should be included in the investigation, especially since it can be proven that he was introduced to Pharmally officials by Michael Yang, his special adviser, in 2017,” Hontiveros said.

“Duterte should, at the very least, explain the policy considerations that resulted in his directive to Sec. Duque,” she added.

Hontiveros said she is hoping that “justice will prevail” and those responsible for misusing public funds during the pandemic will be held accountable.

“As the Ombudsman continues its Pharmally probe, I trust that it will take this revelation into account,” she said.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges against Duque and former Budget undersecretary Christopher Lao for the “irregular transfer” of DOH funds to PS-DBM for Covid-19 supplies procurement.

They were also found guilty of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the service. (PNA)