BI issues lookout bulletin order vs Michael Yang, 8 others

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2021   •   229

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has issued an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) against former presidential adviser on economic affairs Michael Yang, also known as Yang Hong Ming.

Yang is among the subjects of an ongoing Senate investigation on the budget utilization of government-procured pandemic response supplies for alleged overpricing.

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, the ILBO was issued in compliance to the order from the Department of Justice (DOJ) following a request from Senator Richard Gordon being the chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

“This matter is of national interest. We have made the proper arrangements, and our immigration officers are now on the lookout for the possible departure of the suspect personalities,” Morente said.

Meanwhile, pursuant to a September 7 order from the DOJ, former chief of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) Atty. Lloyd Christopher Lao was also placed under lookout bulletin.

Aside from Lao and Yang, the BI also placed under ILBO Overall Deputy Ombudsman Atty. Warren Rex Liong and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.’s executives Twinkle Dargani, Huang Tzu Yen, Krizle Grace Mago, Justine Garado, Linconn Ong, and Mohit Dargani.

The BI clarified that an ILBO is for monitoring the movement of subjects who might attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal process by leaving the country.

“An ILBO is issued for prudence to double check if there are any pending arrest warrants against the subjects, or monitor their itineraries and whereabouts, should they attempt to leave the country,” the BI explained.

The Senate has started an investigation on Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. to dig into the P8 billion worth of government contracts despite being a start-up company with only P625,000 in paid-up capital.

Duterte backs call for Ombudsman probe on Pharmally issue

Maris Federez   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte supports a call for the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on the government’s alleged anomalous procurement of pandemic supplies.

The president was referring to the appeal of the Philippine College of Physicians for the Ombudsman to file appropriate cases against all those accountable in the controversial multibillion-peso deals between the government and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

“We welcome the call of the Philippine College of Physicians that this matter should be immediately given to our courts and the Ombudsman. We have been saying this for the longest time and we all know that the Senate cannot prosecute. Mabuti pa ang mga doktor alam at naintindihan nila,” Duterte said.

“File cases is the right way to go. Stop using this issue in aid of election. Problema kasi sa Senate natin trying hard maghanap ng mga issue na may nangungurakot o kaya may nagkakapera,” he added.

The chief executive stated that, to date, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has yet to build a case out of the hearings it has conducted, pointing out that that the said government deal was consistent with Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act.

“And so we go back now to what has been established many times, walang overpricing […} legal ang naging proseso ng pagbili, according to what has been provided by Bayanihan 1. Na-deliver lahat at binayaran nang pagkatapos na-deliver,” the president insisted.

Duterte also dared the Senate to bring the matter to the proper courts.

“And if you think that you have identified companies with tax issues, then file the appropriate cases. Matagal na naman namin sinasabi, kasuhan niyo ang mga dapat kasuhan. Lahat naman talaga dapat magbayad ng buwis at kung kailangan magbayad, singilan para magbayad iyong may mga atraso sa gobyerno kagaya ni Senator Gordon,” Duterte said.

“Eh you call my memorandum ‘stupid?’ Well, I challenge you: bring your arguments to the proper court and I will answer you,” he further stated.

The president also slammed Senator Richard Gordon for threatening to cut the budget of the executive department if the officials will not attend the Blue Ribbon’s hearings, calling it a blatant abuse of power.

“You threaten the budget of different agencies of the Executive because the officials refuse to attend to your hearings. Ito ‘yung mga pang-abuso talaga itong masabi ko sa gobyerno — sa gobyerno ‘pag ka demokrasya, itong separation of powers, co-equal and everything; and they threatened to paralyze government,” Duterte said.

“I challenge you, do it. ‘Pag ka ‘yung mga hearing reduce the budget by one third, hinahamon ko kayo, gawain ninyo ‘yan,” he added. —/mbmf

Immigration personnel barred from engaging in political activities – Morente

Robie de Guzman   •   October 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday reminded its employees to refrain from actively engaging in partisan political activities whether offline or on social media.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that employees are prohibited from campaigning actively and soliciting votes and support for their election bets as mandated by the law.

“This election season, as public servants, we are expected to remain politically neutral as this is mandated by law,” he said.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution defines election campaign or partisan political activity as “any act designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or party to public office.”

Morente also said that the mere wearing of shirts, caps, or pins showing the names and faces of the candidates is prohibited according to advisories from the Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Elections.

“This shall cover all our employees, whether they are permanent, or contractual,” he added.

He also reminded BI employees to “adhere to the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees with respect to their actions online, and use good judgment in sharing information.”

Morente warned that officers found engaging in partisan political activities will be penalized with one month and one day suspension to six months for the first offense.

Duterte won’t withdraw memo barring gov’t officials from Pharmally hearings

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night (October 6) defended his memorandum order barring government officials from attending the Senate investigation on the government’s management of pandemic funds.

During his regular public address, Duterte slammed senators who were calling for the withdrawal of the memo directing government officials and employees to no longer attend the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings.

“Kayo ang nag-umpisa nito eh. Kayo ang nag-umpisa nitong lahat (You’re the ones who started this. You started all of this), he said referring to the panel.

READ: DOJ chief defends Duterte memo barring Cabinet execs from attending Senate panel probe

The committee is currently conducting investigation on alleged irregularities in the government’s procurement of COVID-19 pandemic supplies last year.

“I have to protect the Executive department from the incessant and steady dose of insults coming from the senators,” Duterte said. “There ain’t no way that I will withdraw it. You can do your worst and I will do mine,” he added.

The Chief Executive said government employees, including Cabinet members, should be focused on addressing the  pandemic instead of participating in Senate hearings. The President also slammed Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan for threatening government employees.

“I’m told that it was Pangilinan who said that ‘the worst is yet to come’ to mga empleyado (the employees). Who are you to threaten or even to intimidate government workers?” Duterte said. AAC

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