The report of Covid’s Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) will be presented next Tuesday (19). Names of military personnel involved in alleged corruption schemes waged during the purchase of covid-19 vaccines are expected to be among those nominated for indictments and prosecutions.
In an interview with Brazil in fact, senator Simone Tebet (MDB-MS), who actively participated in the CPI sessions, stated that “more than embarrassment” to military personnel and figures from the Center, who also appear in the alleged schemes, the work of the commission could make these persons are “investigated by the Public Ministry, denounced by the Judiciary Branch, and who are liable for crimes of administrative responsibility, in the case of public servants, and other offenses in the civil sphere”.
::For a former Health Minister, Covid’s CPI should have called Braga Netto and other military personnel::
In the words of the emedebista, it is “regrettable” that the CPI ran into names of soldiers during the investigations “in view of the respect and credibility that the Brazilian Armed Forces have”, she says. “What saddens us is that, together with the political core, we had the military core also participating in this process.”
Tebet also stated that the fact that the former Chief of Staff, General Braga Netto, did not sit on the commission’s bench does not mean “that he cannot be indicted by the rapporteur depending on the evidence that exists”. The current Minister of Defense, Braga Netto, is considered one of the most influential people within the Ministry of Health.
Check the interview in full:
Two of the paths that can be followed from the report are in the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and in the Chamber of Deputies. Both environments have shown on several occasions a retreat in relation to a possible impeachment, even with the findings promoted by the CPI. How do you assess this scenario?
I do not believe that the crime of responsibility, which will be included in the report that leads to an impeachment process and which will be handed over to the president of the Chamber of Deputies, will continue in progress. That being so, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), president of the Chamber, had already opened the impeachment process in relation to the other dozens of complaints.
But this is not because of any lack of argument in the report, but because there is no impeachment process without people on the street, without popular pressure. As long as there is no popular pressure, within the Chamber of Deputies there is no impeachment process against the President of the Republic.
In relation to the PGR [Procuradoria-Geral da República], then yes, we are facing a gravity is odd. The Attorney General of the Republic is the representative of the highest supervisory body. It is the constitutional body with the greatest power to investigate, investigate, denounce and, obviously, be part of a judicial process involving the crime of corruption and omission in the criminal area against federal public authorities. But I strongly believe that there will be pressure from the base on the PGR.
He is the apex of a pyramid whose base is made up of thousands of prosecutors who, dissatisfied, tend to pressure. In this aspect, I believe that something can go on. Let’s remember that there are numerous denounced persons indicated in the report. Some will go to the common court, others to the Federal Court and a few, by privileged jurisdiction, thus need to pass through the hand of the Attorney General of the Republic.
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Despite this, the CPI has already brought about some concrete changes in the course of Brazilian politics, especially in relation to the pandemic. What are these concrete results of the CPI and how do you assess them?
The CPI has already brought about many concrete changes regarding the federal government’s handling of the pandemic. I would point out three main points. First let’s not forget that when Brazil started vaccinating, it didn’t even have 13% of those vaccinated. If I continued in that tune, it would take a year and a half to reach 80%. We are now reaching 70% immunized with the first dose, because as soon as the CPI was installed, the government drastically changed its approach to the purchase of vaccines.
Another point that I consider extremely important: the CPI decisively and fundamentally fought the denial of the federal government, which wanted to implement, through fake news illegitimately financed on social networks, the thesis of herd immunity from contamination, that is, , “let’s all get it after all it’s a little flu and with that come back to the market”. A third point is that the CPI curbed attempts to overprice the purchase of vaccines, including the suspension of payment of the Covaxin contract.
The CPI pointed to a scheme of influence within the Ministry of Health, taking both the names of the military and of people close to the Center of the National Congress. Do you believe that the CPI will have any concrete results on this scheme, even if there is an embarrassment on these figures?
The CPI showed that there was an attempt to purchase overpriced vaccines, as in the case of the vaccine involving allegedly involving the government leader in the Chamber [Ricardo Barros (PP-PR)], in addition to the contract with the CanSino laboratory, which would be worth R$ 6 billion.
It saddens us that, allied to the political core, we had the military core also participating in this process, which is regrettable given the respect and credibility that the Brazilian Armed Forces have.
And more than embarrassment, these people are indicted. Therefore, they may be investigated by the Public Ministry, denounced by the Judiciary Branch, liable for crimes of administrative responsibility, in the case of public servants, and other offenses in the civil sphere.
What will be the suggested measures for private companies involved in alleged corruption and other illegality schemes, such as Need Medications, FIB Bank, Davati Medical Supply, Belcher Pharmaceuticals, Prevent Senior?
This is a sensitive issue in relation to the arrangements regarding these companies. Obviously they will be denounced. It is obvious that the Public Prosecutor’s Office can, based on all the arguments presented and the rapporteur’s suggestions, request the suspension of the suitability of these companies, for the purpose of participating in the bidding process with the federal government. These companies will be held liable and will respond civilly as well, with the assets of these companies being even blocked.
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In the specific case of Prevent Senior, we have the opening of a CPI in the state of São Paulo. Therefore, from there we will also have a deepening of the investigation, which may bring new elements that could corroborate the lawsuit against the company.
At various times, the presence of the senators proved to be providential, as when you took the name of Ricardo Barros during the testimony of deputy Luis Miranda (DEM-DF). How do senators leave the CPI room for the Senate plenary?
First of all, there are all the regrettable episodes that happened with the senators in the CPI. Starting with the lack of nomination by the leaders of at least one senator to participate in the collegiate.
Now, the presence of senators will allow us to improve the legislation. There is a draft resolution by Senator Eliziane Gama (Cidadania-MA) that we want to vote on this year, which does not need the president’s sanction or go through the Chamber of Deputies, which states that when leaders do not nominate at least one woman on the committees permanent or temporary, a vacancy opens immediately so that a woman can fill it.
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But I think the most important thing is that it gave birth to a sad reality. People still refuse to believe that a woman suffers from misogyny, that a woman who dares to enter the labor market goes to a public environment, not only in politics but in everyday life, she receives all sorts of discrimination. And being there live with the Brazilian population, witnessing the regrettable episodes, because it wasn’t just one, there were several that occurred there in relation to women, exposed the macho reality of the world of politics.
I believe we have to make this episode something pedagogical. The population today is beginning to recognize that there is still much to be done in terms of equality between men and women.
Would you point out any error made by the CPI?
I can’t remember any gross, strategic and relevant error in the course of the CPI. It is obvious that it was not perfect, it is obvious that the CPI, being a collegiate body where the will of the majority prevails, cannot advance at all.
In the case of Braga Netto, there was really resistance. There was no majority to take him, which does not mean that he cannot be indicted by the rapporteur depending on the evidence of the documents that exist. In the macro aspect, the CPI was the mother of all CPIs and clearly showed that CPI in Brazil is a serious instrument that can be taken seriously when dealing with the matter with due relevance. The CPI, without a doubt, was the most important in the history of Brazil.
Even because it was not about past facts, but about continued facts of an incumbent president who continues to insist on the error of willful omission, who did not act in the face of allegations of suspicions of corruption. The CPI also had to deal each day with new facts, having a deadline to be closed, and with limited power with regard to the investigation. So I believe she surprised everyone.
Members of the CPI, such as you and senator Alessandro Vieira have already shown themselves as possible candidates for the 2022 elections. How will you position yourself in relation to other candidates?
I didn’t put myself as a pre-candidate in 2022. We are talking to the party, which made me this invitation. It’s not just now that I’ve been talking to some leaders and, unlike the last election, where the MDB candidacy came more from the top, right now who is asking for a pre-candidacy of the MDB is the party’s own militancy. That’s another 15 or 20 days to decide.
Anyway, my political project is to remove President Bolsonaro in the second round. I will be with the third way either as a pre-candidate or supporting someone who is capable of removing President Bolsonaro. I believe that all pre-candidates will have to have a certain altruism in recognizing that it is not possible to put more than two candidates in the third way, otherwise we will return to the polarization of former President Lula with President Bolsonaro in the second round.
What was the importance of the investigations carried out by professional journalism vehicles during the commission? At various times you cited data collected by reports.
Politics and journalism have always gone hand in hand, at least in a democracy, especially in delicate and difficult times, and no one disputes that we are living through the most difficult moments in our history. Obviously this makes more than ever politics and journalism go hand in hand.
It was not a few times that I gave information to the press, so that the press could not only disclose it firsthand, but also so that it could carry out the investigative process, and vice versa.
In the eyes of public opinion, in the eyes of Brazilian society, with this CPI it is important to recognize that social networks are a means of contact that we have with the population. The population manifests itself through social networks. Especially in an epidemic where we are indoors, we need to know what the Brazilian population thinks. This is a good thermometer and a good communication channel, but even social networks have come to recognize that nothing replaces serious and investigative journalism.
This one-two, having the same common goal between politics and journalism in the search for truth and solutions, was a good one-two.
Edition: Vinícius Segalla