Du­ter­te’s stench of corruption

, ,

Rodrigo Duterte can no longer hold off the rotten stench of his regime. In the past weeks, big cases of plunder involving his closest factotums and anomalous favored companies have been continually unearthed.

From the onset, Duterte maneuvered to monopolize public funds in the name of fighting the pan­demic. The rubberstamp Con­gress passed the Bayanihan 1 which gran­ted him ₱275 billion in funds and the authority to bypass al­lo­ca­tion and procurement procedures.

Duterte appointed Wendell Avisado and Christopher Lao, law­yers who both served him before becoming president, to the De­part­ment of Budget and Management (DBM). Using their positions, Du­terte pocketed at least ₱1 billion in government purchase of overpriced face masks, face shields, personal protective equipments (PPEs) and test kits. He even decreed the wea­ring of face shields to create and maintain demand for the pro­duct.

On Duterte’s orders, the agency bought face masks at ₱27 each and face shields at ₱120 despite having supplies at only ₱13 and ₱27 apiece. It also bought test kits at ₱1,720 each, even when these can be bought at ₱925 apiece, and PPEs at ₱1,910 when there were supplies at ₱945 each.

Two Chinese companies were favored—Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation and Philippine Blue Cross Biotech Corporation. Phar­mally was only incorporated in September 2019 with a capital investment of ₱260,666 but Lao granted it eight contracts worth ₱8.7 billion. The company raked in profits amounting to ₱7.5 billion in 2020 from zero in 2019. Meanwhile, Blue Cross Biotech’s net income rose from ₱260,666 in 2019 to ₱12.2 million in 2020. Pharmally is owned by Huang Wen Lie and his son Huang Tzu Yen, both partners of Michael Yang, one of Duterte’s special economic advisers. Yang’s name first surfaced in 2017 when he was named by a retired general as a drug lord involved in smuggling shabu in the country.

Du­ter­te's stench of corruption