MANILA— Authorities deal with companies and not their executives, Malacañang said on Thursday, after a senator bared the alleged legal mess hounding 2 executives of the firm that supplied supposedly overpriced medical supplies to the government.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday alleged 2 officials of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. were wanted for alleged fraud, embezzlement and stock manipulation in Taiwan. The firm won P8.6 billion in government contracts for anti-coronavirus masks, face shields, and other medical equipment last year.
Under Philippine laws, a corporation has a "separate and distinct" personality from its stockholders, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque, a lawyer.
"Ang nag-bid po, ‘yong korporasyon. Hindi naman po kinakailangan busisiin talaga ‘yong personalidad na nasa likod ng korporasyon kasi nga po separate personality ‘yon," he said in a press briefing.
(The corporation was the one that bid. The personalities behind the corporation need not be scrutinized because it has a separate personality.)
"Ang tinitingnan po natin ay kung ’yong kumpanyang ‘yon ay blacklisted sa gobyerno dahil hindi naka-deliver sa previous transaction o hindi nagbayad ng buwis," added the official.
(What we look at is whether or not the company was blacklisted by government because it failed to deliver on a previous transaction or did not pay taxes.)
Government dealt with Pharmally because it offered the lowest quotation and agreed not to receive payment if it failed to deliver supplies, Roque said.
The personal protective equipment that government bought from Pharmally at P1,700 each were full sets, medical-grade, and heat sealed, officials earlier said.
The firm reportedly has ties to Michael Yang, a former adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte. A 2017 Malacañang video also showed Yang introducing the President to Pharmally officials.
Duterte on Monday unleashed personal insults and accusations of politicking against Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon, who are leading the investigation into the Pharmally deals.
Lacson said the Senate "will not flinch" in its inquiry, while Gordon, who heads the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said the investigation may lead to President Rodrigo Duterte and his longtime aide Sen. Christopher Go.
Asked if Duterte would cooperate if the Senate probe eventually involved him, Roque said on Monday there was "no evidence" of overpricing in the Pharmally deals.
"Kung meron po at meron talagang ebidensya ng korapsyon, hindi na kinakailangan ng Senate investigation. Sisibakin na po ‘yan ni Presidente," he continued.
(If there was evidence of this and corruption, a Senate investigation will be unnecessary. The President will fire those involved immediately.)
Video courtesy of PTV