House panel ready to clear Pharmally on controversial COVID-19 supply deals?

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability has cleared Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp. in the allegations of overpricing of medical supplies procured by the government in its last hearing on Monday, Oct. 4.

The House panel led by Committee chairman and DIWA Partylist Rep. Michael Aglipay is expected to clear Pharmally on the questioned P42 billion fund transfers made by the Department of Health (DOH) to the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).

During the interpellations, Ako Bicol Party list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. inquired about the issue on the overpricing of protective personal equipment (PPE) and face masks as well as the payments and delivery of the said items.

Deputy Speaker and 1-Sagip Party list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, meanwhile, stressed the need to know the truth and the right way of conducting inquiries in aid of legislation.

Surigao del Sur Representative and Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel, the vice-chairperson of the committee, during the meeting cited the committee's findings that proved Pharmally was not involved in any anomalies with regards to providing the procured medical supplies.

Zamboanga City Rep. Cesar Jimenez, on his part, asked Pharmally executive Krizle Grace Mago about her recanted statement before the committee.

Bayan Muna Party list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, on the other hand, questioned the procurement made on the medical supplies, especially the controversial face masks and the bid made by other suppliers.

"There were already existing provisions in RA 9184 (Bayanihan 1 Law) regarding conditions where there is a need for emergency procurement, negotiated contracts especially in these times pero pinili na i-exempt 'yung procurement during this emergency situation pero naniniwala ako there were enough provisions within the procurement law to prevent itong mga problemang hinaharap natin ngayon, (but they chose to exempt the procurement during this emergency situation but I believe there were enough provisions within the procurement law to prevent the problems we are facing now.)" Gaite said.

Aside from Mago also appearing during the committee meeting were Pharmally president Huang Tzu Yen and executives Twinkle Dargani and Mohit Dargani who answered queries from the House panel. (MELVIN SARANGAY)