Pharmally exec: Ex-Duterte adviser Yang financed firm's medical supply purchases

Executives of the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation have confessed that Michael Yang, President Duterte's former economic adviser, funded their company's purchases of medical supplies for the Department of Health (DOH) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael Yang, President Duterte's former economic adviser, is present at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged irregularities in the DOH's use of COVID-19 funds on September 10, 2021. (Screencapture from Senate livestream/YouTube)

At the continuation the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's inquiry on the alleged overpricing of pandemic supplies bought by the DOH thru the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (DBM-PS), Pharmally chairman and president Huang Tzu Yen finally admitted that Yang was involved in their purchases.

"We did receive Mr. Michael Yang's help, borrowed money from him to pay," Huang, who attended the hearing virtually from Singapore, told the Senate panel on Friday, September 10.

Yang, during the hearing, initially denied knowing the Pharmally and its officials, before admitting that he was the one who introduced the firm to some Chinese suppliers.

The Davao City-based businessman, however, maintained that he had nothing to do with the transactions of Pharmally. To recall, Duterte also defended Yang from the allegations.

Huang admitted that Pharmally did not have the financial capability to take on the contracts awarded to them last year by the DBM-PS for the purchase of COVID-19 supplies. So they approached Yang.

"The arrangement was since we were not able to finance these things and we really needed to do that we would not get blacklisted, he (Yang) offered to borrow us the money so that we will be able to pay for it," he said.

Pharmally's director Linconn Ong, who had also been evasive in telling senators where the corporation got its funds despite the lack of financial capacity, confirmed the information. He earlier identified Yang as the firm's guarantor to their suppliers.

"I'd be very honest, Michael Yang paid the advance and paid the stocks -- I mean the goods," Ong told the senators.

The two Pharmally executives, however, failed to specify how much Yang had loaned to the firm.

But Huang said these did not include the funds for their purchase of surgical face masks, which were priced P22 to P27.72 each.

They also did not ask for Huang's help for the contracts that were awarded to them this year, he clarified.

"We realized a huge ruckus but we just want to make sure that people don't think that we are dummy for Mr. Michael Yang. We have though, we have ambitions, we work on our resources," Huang pointed out.

Senators had questioned the DBM-PS' award of over P8 billion in deals to Pharmally from April to June last year despite the lack of track record and a paid up capital of only P625,000.

The company reportedly secured some P2.3 billion more from the government from contracts given from May to July this year.

Resigned DBM-PS head and budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao argued that financial capacity of the firm was not among the requirements in government procurements -- but senators were not sold on this.

"The basic financial capacity requirement has not been complied, was not available because the grantee...admitted that they have no funds and then they went to Michael Yang," Senate Minorty Leader Franklin Drilon said, citing the country's procurement law which provides for the financial contracting capacity.

"That's why all the protestations of Mr. Lao will not cover the fact that there was undue favor granted to Pharmally who was not qualified at all by any standards," the former justice secretary opined.

Senators said the admission of Pharmally officials proved that Yang was lying in his testimonies.

"This is all contrary to what Michael Yang said that he never had any dealings with Pharmally. That is very patent...Now, the cat is out of the bag," committee chairperson and Senator Richard Gordon said.

"In his testimony under oath, Mr. Yang averred that he had nothing to do with the transactions made by Phramllay expect to intoroduce Mr. Linconn Ong to the Chinese suppliers," Senator Panfilo Lacson also recalled.

"Again, Mr. Yang himself has been very evasive, and he lied under oath before this Committee," Lacson said.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has again cited Yang in contempt, as well as Ong, for supposedly "being evasive" to the senators' queries about his links to Pharmally. Senators moved for the issuance of new arrest warrants against the two resource persons.