Robredo deplores Roque’s 'diversion'; sets record straight on PPE purchases during Aquino regime

Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, August 5, dismissed Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s revelation on the personal protective equipment (PPE) sets purchased during the Aquino administration, saying this was “a lame attempt” to divert the issues from the P8.7 billion worth of government contracts awarded to a shady pharmaceutical company by the current administration.

Vice President Leni Robredo (OVP)

“Una, parang napaka-lame attempt naman ito para i-divert ‘yung usapan. Ang number 2, ang kaibahan noon sa ngayon (First, this is such a lame attempt to divert the issue. And number 2, the difference then and now)—aside from the fact na (that those were) high-end—dumaan iyon sa (it went through) public bidding,” she said during her weekly radio show over dzXL.

She also pointed out that the supplier, Rebmann Incorporated, is an established company that’s been in the business since the 1980s. It has also long dealt with the Department of Health (DOH) on supplying medical supplies and equipment.

When its name was dragged into the PPE procurement issue, Robredo said the company made itself available for an interview. She also noted that it has a real office address in the country whereas Pharmally Pharmaceuticals used a fake address in its contract with the government.

Roque raised questions on the PPE procurement during the Aquino administration because the purchase order showed that each PPE set was priced at P3,864 compared to Pharmally’s P1,700.

READ: 'PPEs for P3K each?': Roque tells Drilon to explain purchases of Aquino administration

But the Palace official did not publish the entire document that showed the specifications of the PPE sets bought during the previous administration. Former presidential spokesman Abigail Valte published on her Twitter account the full purchase order showing that the set included chemical goggles, gloves, plastic shoe cover, coveralls, surgical gown, N95 face masks, surgical masks, and head caps.

The specifications also listed that most of the items in the PPE set were sourced from 3M, a leading manufacturer of medical supplies and equipment. The items also have a warranty of one year and met international standards.

Contrary to the purchase order of Pharmally, the company did not include the specifications of the PPE sets the government ordered. Pharmally, which was only registered in September 2019, also only had a P625,000 capitalization when it went on to bag the P8.7-billion contract during the pandemic.

The Philippine government is also its only client as it bagged another P2-billion contract in 2021.

Robredo pointed out that aside from the low capitalization, lack of experience and background, and the fake address, the people behind Pharmally are said to have criminal records in Taiwan.

READ: Hontiveros bares links between PPE supplier, Duterte: 'Why is gov't transacting with fugitives?'

“So, ang dami questions. Unang-una, bakit natin tiniwalaan iyong ganung kumpanya na obligasyon ng pamahalaan na (So, there are so many questions. First, why did we trust that company when the government is obliged to do) due diligence, di ba (right)? Tingnan kung reputable iyong kampaning ito (They should check if the company is reputable),” she said.

The vice president also lamented that such questionable contracts have links to President Duterte.

Michael Yang, the President’s former economic adviser, has links to the board members of Pharmally. The company dealt directly with Christopher Lloyd Lao, the head of the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) at that time.

Lao was the former aide of Senator Bong Go in Malacañang when the latter was still Special Adviser to the President.

Duterte also defended the Davao-based Yang in his recent public address.