Sedition complaint filed against Hontiveros

MANILA. Senator Risa Hontiveros. (File photo)
MANILA. Senator Risa Hontiveros. (File photo)

A PHARMALLY employee filed on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, sedition and perjury complaints against Senator Risa Hontiveros for allegedly using the Senate inquiry into irregularities in the use of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic funds in order to bring down the government.

Jaime Vegas, an employee of the embattled Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, filed the complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Hontiveros and her staff, lawyer Jaye Bekema, along with several others.

In his 15-page complaint, Vegas said Hontiveros’s objective in bullying resource persons and manipulating the Senate investigation was to bring down the government by portraying that it was corrupt and to solicit support from the general public to rise against President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Attached in Vegas’s complaint was the affidavit of his former co-worker Veejay Almira, who claimed being paid by Hontiveros for him to make up stories and issue false statements that will incriminate Pharmally more.

Almira said Bekema initially gave him, through GCash, P2,500 twice.

Bekema earlier denied claims that she bribed the Pharmally employee.

Almira said he had a video call with Hontiveros and Bekema where he was briefed on what to say.

After executing a video where he claimed that the face shields delivered by Pharmally to the Department of Health (DOH) were expired and damaged, he received another P10,000.

Almira said he was also forced to sign a written statement of his claims.

The video was played during the Senate hearing on September 24.

He said he received another P20,000 from Hontiveros’s staff for relocation after he revealed that he has been receiving threats after testifying in Senate inquiry.

Almira said in 2020, he messaged Hontiveros’s Facebook page seeking assistance for his child who has skin disease. He said he was made to submit his personal documents and information that indicates where he works.

“Wala po akong intensyon na siraan ang aking kumpanyang pinapasukan, ginawa ko po yun dahil nangako sila ng tulong sa aking anak. Akala ko po ay lehitimong pagtulong ang ginagawa nila, ‘yun pala ay gusto nila akong gawing testigo para siraan ang gobyerno,” he said.

In a statement, Hontiveros said the complaint filed against her is “laughable” and the “last ditch effort” of Pharmally and the people behind them.

"The charge to commit sedition is laughable. Holding public officials accountable is not rising publicly and tumultuously against the government," Hontiveros said in a statement.

"I do not need to resort to unlawful means to point out anomalies in Pharmally's transactions. The Senate has already exposed many of these information. This is clearly a last ditch effort by Pharmally and its backers," she added.

In a press conference, the senator said they have “receipts” to counter the claims against them and that they welcome any investigation.

The Senate blue ribbon committee is looking into the irregularities in the use of Covid-19 funds by the DOH as flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Pharmally was identified as the biggest pandemic supplier of the government, bagging over P8-billion contract from the Procurement Service (PS) of the Department of Budget and Management, which was tapped by the DOH for the procurement of medical supplies necessary for protection against the virus during the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

Lawmakers tagged the supplies delivered by Pharmally as overpriced.

Pharmally’s links with former presidential adviser for economic affairs Michael Yang was established during the investigation, prompting the lawmakers to think that it was the reason why the firm was favored among any other suppliers. (SunStar Philippines)


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