Ombudsman Martires reveals probe on Pharmally transactions for COVID-19

Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires

Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires on Tuesday, Oct. 26, disclosed his office has been conducting a probe on the alleged anomalous transactions with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation involving more than P10 billion in medical supplies for the government’s COVID-19 response.

“We are conducting our own investigation.... While the Senate and House are investigating, we are also investigating," said Martires during a television interview.

When asked if the OMB is also investigating Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Sen. Richard J. Gordon on the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) funds, Martires said President Duterte has not filed any complaint and the President did not make any follow up.

The President had earlier said he will ask the OMB to probe Gordon, who leads the Senate probe on Pharmally, for alleged corruption by “funneling P80 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to Philippine Red Cross (PRC),” which the senator also heads.

“We are waiting for the COA (Commission on Audit) to give us a report on this alleged P80 million of Senator Gordon,” Martires said.

The Senate’s probe on Pharmally has spawned a wide rift between the President and Gordon.

In one directive, the President banned Cabinet members and other officials in the executive department from attending the Senate’s inquiry.

During the television interview, Martires said the OMB will release soon the results of its investigation into the reported delay in the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the country’s health workers by the Department of Health (DOH).

“We are now almost finished with the investigation on the delayed payment of benefits to fallen health workers,” he also said.

“We will be releasing one aspect of the investigation conducted last year. I hope the investigators will complete the resolution within the month," he said.

Martires said he was so affected because he believes that many health workers could have been saved had the DOH immediately purchased the needed PPE.

“I was so affected. And I was thinking, had the PPEs been purchased prior to the declaration of the lockdown, siguro (maybe) we could have avoided the death of health workers," he said as he explained why he was so passionate on the matter.

In June last year, the OMB launched its probe on the following issues:

  1. Purchase of 100,000 test kits by the DOH.
  2. Delayed procurement of PPE and other medical gears necessary for the protection of healthcare workers.
  3. Alleged lapses and irregularities that led to the death of medical workers.
  4. Rising number of deaths and infected medical frontliners.
  5. In inaction in the processing and release of benefits and financial assistance of “fallen” and infected medical frontliners.
  6. Confused and delayed reporting of COVID-related deaths and confirmed cases.