MANILA, Philippines– Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday vehemently denied the charges filed against her by an employee of the controversial Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. before Office of the Ombudsman.
A certain Jaime Vegas filed a 15-page complaint, accusing Hontiveros for supposedly committing sedition and perjury when she presented a witness who now allegedly admits to being bribed and ordered by the legislator.
Vegas claimed that Hontiveros bribed Veejay Almira, who appeared before the Senate blue ribbon committee last September 24, to testify against Pharmally which is being probed for allegedly overpricing pandemic supplies sold to the government.
The witness in question first appeared before the Senate panel on September 24 through a recorded video message. He testified under oath but asked to remain anonymous to the public, citing concerns for his safety.
“Lately, Sen. Hontiveros and Atty. Bekema were persuading (the witness) to testify against Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation in exchange for cash amounting to 20,000 pesos and if he refused, he would not get any cash,” Vegas stated in the 15-page complaint.
“The objective of Sen. Hontiveros was to bring the government down by portraying that this government is corrupt and to solicit support from the general public to rise against Duterte Administration,” he added.
Hontiveros denied the claims saying that it is “laughable.”
The charge to commit sedition is laughable. Holding public officials accountable is not rising publicly and tumultuously against the government.senator risa hontiveros
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.senator risa hontiveros
The Senate panel’s probe on reported deficiencies in pandemic spending has centered largely on Pharmally, the government’s most favored pandemic supplier.
One of its officers, Krizle Grace Mago, confirmed Almira’s testimony on the firm’s tampering with face shields shortly after it was delivered. She also said at the time that she believed Pharmally was “swindling” the government by selling it face shields which Almira called “substandard.”
Mago has since disavowed her own testimony but Senate President Vicente Sotto III told Philstar.com that her sworn statement still carries more weight than a subsequent retraction.
We have receipts
“I just want to remind everyone that we have receipts, and that’s what solidifies our investigation,” Hontiveros told reporters in Filipino. “We have nothing to hide and we are ready to face the accusations.”
She presented screenshots of Almira’s exchanges with her office, showing that he was the first to approach them through Facebook on September 3. He reached out again through an email on September 9.
It also appears that it was Almira who asked to appear live before Senate reporters to reaffirm his testimony.
Hontiveros also showed copies of the two affidavits signed by Almira: the first is his testimony on Pharmally and the second is his denial of the firm’s bribery allegations.
The senator also said that she offered to place Almira under the Senate’s protective custody but he did not take her up on the offer.
INQUIRER.net, Philstar, Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros