Drilon to COA, Ombudsman: Probe DBM-PS deals with Pharmally

Published September 19, 2021, 2:25 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the Ombudsman should start conducting its own investigation into the multi-billion deals between the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS) and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. amid revelations of anomalies in the awarding of nearly P11-billion contracts to a small company that only has a paid-up capital of P625,000, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.

Drilon said it is about time these two constitutional bodies to step in as there is reason to believe there is overpricing of face masks and other medical supplies procured by the government for its COVID-19 response.

The minority leader said a special audit is necessary since COA’s regular annual audit may not be sufficient to establish overpricing.

“Dahilan sa maraming lumalabas sa investigation ng (Senate) Blue Ribbon ay hinihingi ko po at siguro panahon na para magkaroon ng special audit para makita nila at ma-confirm ano yung lumalabas sa investigation ng senado, (Because there have been so many revelations during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, I think it’s time to conduct a special audit, so we can confirm what was revealed in the Senate’s investigation),” Drilon said in an interview on Saturday.

“Sila ay may kapangyarihan tingnan at suriin isa-isa ang mga dokumento (They have the power to scrutinize and peruse each of the documents),” he added.

Drilon, a former justice secretary, also said the Ombudsman should also investigate the anomalous transactions by forming a fact-finding team to probe the DBM-PS’s procurement of overpriced medical supplies from Pharmally.

Both the Ombudsman and COA, he said, can subpoena documents and witnesses.

In particular, Drilon said the Ombudsman and COA should investigate former DBM-PS undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao for possible violation of the anti-graft law.

He pointed out Lao clearly favored Pharmally despite the absence of technical, legal and financial capabilities as required by law.