Controversial medical equipment supplier Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. bagged more questionable contracts from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the ongoing investigation by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee revealed.
At the investigation’s sixth hearing last Monday, September 13, Senator Panfilo Lacson observed that Pharmally may have actually won contracts worth around P12 billion despite having no established record in the business and having only P625,000 in paid up capital when it incorporated in 2019.
Lacson made the observation after Senator Franklin Drilon bared additional P4 billion in test kits contracts were awarded to Pharmally that were not included in the Commission on Audit’s 2020 report flagging questionable transactions between the corporation and the DBM procurement service.
In addition to earlier revelations that Pharmally has bagged more than P8 billion in contracts, Drilon said the following purchase orders were awarded to the company:
- P300 million worth of KN95 masks at P100 per piece issued on April 23, 2020;
- P2.88 billion for 41,400 test kits at P69,500 per kit on June 9, 2020;
- P245.85 million for 312 test kits at P787,968 each on June 10, 2020; and
- P774.35 million for 17,000 test kits at P45,550 each (no date cited).
“This is not in the COA report. What happened to this?” Drilon asked former DBM undersecretary Christopher Lao who was its procurement service head at the time of the transactions.
While acknowledging that Drilon’s documents may be official DBM records, Lao denied having any idea about the contracts.
Drilon however said Lao himself signed at least two of the contracts.
The Blue Ribbon Committee investigation was triggered by state auditors who revealed “deficiencies” in government spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte gov’ts corruption
In his summary of Monday’s hearing, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Pharmally still has to explain its incredible fortune with the Rodrigo Duterte government.
“Pharmally still could not explain where it got money to pay its Chinese suppliers. The ‘buy now, pay later’ explanation is hard to believe at a time when the demand was highest,” Reyes said.
Reyes rued that former Duterte economic adviser Michael Yang again chose to skip the Senate hearing to explain his role as go-between between Pharmally and the DBM while possibly being the company’s funder.
“One can’t help but ask, is Pharmally, which was underfunded and incapable of manufacturing medical supplies, just Yang’s dummy?” Reyes asked.
Reyes also noted questionable procedures revealed at the Senate hearing, such as “same day deliveries” of overpriced face masks despite the absence of purchase orders.
“DBM-PS was still asking for quotations and here was Pharmally delivering half-a-million face masks within three hours. It looked like a deal was already in the bag,” he said.
Reyes said that instead of spearheading the defense of Yang, the scale of his administration’s corruption during the pandemic should already be obvious to Duterte. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)