'Hope for the best,' Gordon says as Pharmally report struggles to hurdle committee level

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27)— The Blue Ribbon Committee report seeking charges against President Rodrigo Duterte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and other government officials and personalities tagged in the Pharmally controversy, is in limbo.

Two more senators need to sign the report for it to be sent to the plenary for Senate approval. That has been the case since February, now with only three session days left in the 18th Congress.

"Will try to sponsor Monday maybe if we get the signatures," Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon said in a text message to CNN Philippines on Friday.

When asked if he's expecting two more colleagues to sign the report, Gordon responded, "(Let's) hope for the best."

Under the rules, one can only sponsor the report at the plenary floor after securing a majority vote or nine out of 17 regular members of the committee. To date, seven regular members are signatories: Gordon, Ping Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, Leila de Lima, Koko Pimentel, Kiko Pangilinan, and Risa Hontiveros.

Two ex-officio members have also expressed support - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and just recently, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.

In an e-mail to the Blue Ribbon Committee on May 23, Recto's office said he has agreed to sign the report with the note, "While I agree with most of the recommendations, may still propose amendments."

Other members of the panel include:

Sonny Angara

Grace Poe

Cynthia Villar

Win Gatchalian

Lito Lapid

Pia Cayetano

Bong Go

Bong Revilla

Imee Marcos

Francis Tolentino

Migz Zubiri (ex-officio)

Senator Imee Marcos told CNN Philippines she's "not signing" the report, but did not respond to a request for explanation. Senator Bong Revilla's office said he's still studying it.

After 18 committee hearings which began in August last year, Gordon released in February a partial report on anomalies in the use of government's pandemic response funds.

At the center of the corruption scandal is disgraced government supplier Pharmally Pharmaceutical, accused of cornering billions of pesos in supply deals with the help of former and incumbent government officials, including ex-Duterte adviser Michael Yang.

Gordon recommended graft, corruption, and plunder charges against Duque for transferring more than P41 billion from the Health Department's COVID-19 fund to the Budget Department's Procurement Service -- a portion of which was used to purchase medical goods from Pharmally.

The report further states charges must also be considered against Duterte once he steps down from office. It also seeks a slew of cases against Pharmally executives and other personalities involved.

Pharmally corporate secretary Mohit Dargani and director Linconn Ong, who have both been detained at the Pasay City Jail after being cited in contempt by the Senate, are set to be released after the adjournment of session on June 3, said Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III.