Angara to DOH: Suspend payments for tampered COVID-19 supplies from Pharmally

Published September 26, 2021, 2:48 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sonny Angara on Sunday said the government should suspend any unpaid obligations it has with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation following the disclosure of a witness who said substandard face shields were delivered to the Department of Health (DOH).

Angara pointed out this was validated by Krizle Grace Mago, a Pharmally official who admitted to tampering the production certificate of the face shields, from 2020 to 2021, when they delivered pandemic supplies procured by the government from the firm, at the continuation of the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee into the alleged overpriced COVID-19 pandemic supplies last Friday.

Currently, the Senate blue ribbon panel said Mago could not be located either physically or through her phone after her testimony.

“Pwede na yung (information). Grounds na yan for suspension or disqualification (of Pharmally), dahil sa pag-amin ng testigo, which was under oath (Such information is sufficient. That can be grounds for suspension or disqualification of Pharmally because of the witness’s statement, which was said under oath),” Angara said in an interview over Radio DZBB.

“Mabigat yun, hindi talaga pwedeng pabayaan yung ganung klaseng impormasyon (That’s a serious disclosure. You can’t just ignore that kind of information),” the Senate finance committee chair added.

Angara said the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS) ought to review its contracts with Pharmally and suspend it pending results of investigation.

“Yung Bids and Awards committee dapat pag aralan ng mabuti ito. Bakit pa natin ibibigay dito samantalang may admission na nagbigay sila ng substandard na kagamitan sa gobyerno (the bids and awards committee should study this thoroughly. Why give these contracts to them when there is already an admission that they delivered substandard supplies to the government)?” he pointed out.

“Perwisyo sa publiko yan, perwisyo sa ating government health workers. Eh baka kaya nagkakasakit yung ating mga health care workers ay dahil sa substandard na kagamitan na pinapagamit sa kanila (That’s very damaging to the public, very damaging to our government health workers. Maybe the reason why many of our healthcare workers fell ill is because they used substandard materials that were given to them),” Angara pointed out.

Angara said the action rendered by Pharmally when they delivered substandard face shields is also punishable under Section 3 E of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act No. 3019.

Under the said law, corrupt practices is defined when a public official caused or is “causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

The said provision applies to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.

Angara noted there is also an element of “falsification” and “estafa” in the way the Pharmally officials duped the government, based on the testimony of Mago.

The witness during the hearing, said they were told to repack the face shields that were already dirty and turning yellow. They would also attach a sticker marked “Philippine Government Property” on the repackaged items.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan also agreed that the DOH and DBM-PS should temporarily suspend all payments with Pharmally.

“Yes, these unpaid obligations ought to be reviewed by COA (Commission on Audit) and future payments be suspended pending the results of the CoA investigation,” Pangilinan said.

“DOH and DBM-PS should suspend all payments in the meantime,” he added.

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson also agreed to the proposal, noting that so far senators were able to identify a total of P11.11-billion worth of contracts awarded to Pharmally, an undercapitalized firm.

“Based on the September 21 DBM submission to the Senate, Pharmally bagged 26.39 percent of a total of P39-billion so far awarded to 45 contractors including Pharmally,” Lacson pointed out.

“What is questionable is that in spite of clear lack of track record in transacting business with the government, not to mention their lack of ‘technical, legal and financial capability’ as stated in the GPPB (Government Procurement Policy Board) passed resolution last March 09, 2020, and being a newly registered corporation, Pharmally leads the 44 other firms in terms of nominal value of contracts,” the senator noted.