MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte has defended Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., a company that supplied the government allegedly overpriced anti-virus masks and face shields worth billions and is facing Senate scrutiny.
Senators have questioned why Pharmally, incorporated only in 2019 with a P599,000 capital, was awarded P8.6 billion in government contracts when it had no track record of delivering quality and reasonably-priced materials.
"The senators kept looking for the technical and financial requirements of Pharmally. Wala ka naman pakialam d'yan. Pharmally is really a Pharmally corporation sa Singapore. Doon ‘yan nag-provide," Duterte said in a taped speech that aired on Saturday.
"Ina-ano nila, wala silang makita 'yong Pharmally," he added.
(You have nothing to do with that. They Pharmally is really a Pharmally corporation in Singapore, that's where it provides. They say they can't find Pharmally.)
Duterte seemed to be referring to Sen. Franklin Drilon's statement that the firm allegedly used a fake address in Taguig, which has been vacant since 2018.
"What is clear is that there was this contract, there was delivery, kumpleto lahat, specifications at quantity, quality, and all. Tapos after delivery bago pa nagbayad ang Pilipinas," he added.
(What is clear is there was a contract, there was delivery, specifications were complete in terms of quantity and quality. The Philippines paid after the delivery.)
He said Pharmally supplied 4-piece sets of personal protective equipment, many of which went to government hospitals and other facilities treating COVID-19 sufferers.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier alleged 2 officials of Pharmally were wanted for alleged fraud, embezzlement and stock manipulation in Taiwan.
But Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said the firm has a "separate" and "distinct" personality from its executives.
"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 last week.
(The corporation was the one that bid. The personalities behind the corporation need not be scrutinized because it has a separate personality.)
A 2017 Malacañang video also showed Yang introducing the President to Pharmally officials.
Duterte said he has known Yang, a Davao-based businessman, for around 20 years. He said he tapped Yang when he initially "made contacts with the Chinese."
"Siyempre may negosyo, nakikisali, negosyante e. Ano mang magawa mo?" the President said.
(Of course, there's business, he joined, he's a businessman. What can you do?)
Senators on Thursday cited in contempt and moved for the arrest of Yang and Pharmally executive Linconn Ong for evading questions on the firm's government deals.