Senate panel offers protection to Pharmally exec to divulge 'truth' on gov't deals

Published September 24, 2021, 6:41 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Friday, September 24, moved for the grant of protection to an executive of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation who has expressed willingness to cooperate with their inquiry on the government’s purchase of COVID-19 response supplies.

Senator Francis Pangilinan (Senate of the Philippines)

During the continuation of the Senate committee’s probe on the Department of Health’s (DOH) procurements through the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS), Pharmally regulatory affairs head Krizle Grace Mago told senators that the company may have been deceiving the Philippine government in supplying COVID-19-related supplies.

Mago confirmed the revelation of an unidentified Senate witness that Pharmally has been changing the production dates of old stocks of face shields in certificates before delivering the items to the DOH.

“I am willing to cooperate,” she told Senator Richard Gordon, Blue Ribbon Committee chairperson, while promising that she would tell the truth.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, who said Mago’s admission “carries a lot of weight”, asked the Senate leadership to provide the Pharmally executive security should she commit to cooperating with the Senate investigation.

Pangilinan reminded Mago that she could be held liable for the tampering of production certificates, which, in effect, could put health workers at risk.

“Maaring mayroong mga nurse at doktor na nagka-COVID at namatay dahil sa substandard na dapat sana’y medical-grade na face shields. Dahil nga pinalitan ang [production] date at binigay ‘yong quality na hindi tama (There may be nurses and doctors who contracted COVID-19 and died because they wore substandard face shields, when these should be medical-grade. Because Pharmally replaced the production dates and gave health workers the poor quality),” Pangilinan said.

“If you will be telling the whole truth, then we might, we should provide you with the necessary security to protect you,” he proposed.

Gordon agreed with Pangilinan, saying he believes Mago is a “good” person.

“Alam kong makakatulong ka saamin. Ayokong ikaw maiipit eh (I know you will be able to help us. I don’t want you to get in trouble),” he told the Pharmally officer.

“I advise you, please cooperate with me, and I give you my word, we will protect you, on the word of the Senate President. Para matapos na ito, sinasabi nila matagal daw kami mag-imbestiga (So we could end this, since they were saying that we are prolonging the investigation),” he offered.

“Kung ayaw mo mag-cooperate (If you do not want to cooperation), you will be part and parcel of this conspiracy to defraud the government. The government was already swindled,” Gordon said.

Later, Senator Risa Hontiveros moved to give Mago the protection in exchange of the latter divulging the truth to the Senate.

But Mago said she will consider the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s offer and asked for time “to think about it”. She said she will reach out to the panel should she decide to fully cooperate.

As of this writing, Mago has yet to accept the senators’ offer.