Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Tuesday, Sept. 7 asked the National Task Force for COVID-19 why it used C-130 planes to transport the personal protective equipment (PPEs) the government supposedly purchased from Pharmally, a private firm.
At the continuation of the Senate blue ribbon committee’s hearing on the alleged overpriced procurement of PPEs and other anti-COVID-19 equipment, Lacson questioned why Filipino entrepreneurs were not granted the same treatment with foreign counterparts.
“I’m just wondering why we cannot accommodate a Filipino entrepreneur who’s willing to help because of the pandemic, then we cannot give the same accommodation that was given to Pharmally,” Lacson said during the hearing.
Citing sources, Lacson said the government used C-130 of the Philippine Air Force to ferry the PPEs from China to Philippines last year.
However, Secretary Carlito Galvez, the task force’s chief implementer, denied that a military plane was used to ferry supplies from Pharmally but acknowledged that he is not aware who contracted the plane.
But Lacson said he has information detailing as such.
“We have that information, but now Sec. Galvez is denying it, then so be it. But we have our own sources,” the senator said.
Nevertheless, the lawmaker said he acknowledged the contribution of the Philippine military in the country’s COVID-19 response.
“I’m not blaming the Armed Forces. I acknowledge the heroism of our AFP personnel, there is no doubt about it,” Lacson said.
Galvez clarified then that during the height of the pandemic in 2020, when the country’s borders were closed, they used military plane in order for the badly needed PPEs to be transported to the Philippines.
“Considering we have a lockdown then, they don’t have any flights because the different ports of the Philippines were shut down because we had a total lockdown then,” he said.
All in all, Galvez said the government used three C-130 flights, six Philippine Airlines (PAL) flights, and 12 Pacific flights to deliver 288,000 PPEs. He also said navy ships were also used to transport some of the PPEs to the Philippines.
Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said he is surprised to hear Galvez admit that C-130 planes and navy ships were dispatched to get PPEs from a private manufacturer in China.
“So in other words, the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM-PS) entered into this contract and agreed that the private company can use Philippine Air Force planes and this was on our expense. We will buy from you and we will pick up,” Pangilinan noted.