MANILA—"Sino pa ba ang kumita rito?"
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon raised this question on Monday as the upper House continues its investigation on the multibillion-peso government contract awarded to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
The senator said it was "clear" that the company was given "advantage" despite having a paid-up capital of only P625,000.
"Kahit gaano po baliktarin ito, maliwanag na binigyan ng advantage ang Pharmally dito sa usaping ito," he told Teleradyo.
(No matter how this is twisted, it was clear that Pharmally was given advantage.)
Pharmally bagged P8.7-billion worth of contracts from April to June 2020 to supply the Philippines medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday's Senate hearing, Pharmally executives disclosed the company borrowed money from Chinese businessman and former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang.
Yang denied he was involved in any transactions of Pharmally, saying he only introduced Huang Tzu Yen and Linconn Ong to several suppliers in China. He later admitted the firm sought his assistance.
As senators were dissatisfied with Yang and Ong's answers during the hearing, the Senate blue ribbon committee cited them in contempt and moved for their arrest for the second time.
"Mahalata naman na paikot-ikot ang sagot at kung minsan matagal sumagot. Mahalata mo naman na kung minsan nagsisinungaling," Drilon said.
(You can see their answers were evasive. It's clear that sometimes they were lying.)
For Sen. Panfilo Lacson, he wants to find out if Yang acted alone on the deal.
"The bigger mystery that has yet to be unraveled by the committee is - are there other personalities behind Yang, or did he act on his own?" he said in a statement.
For a single contract, Lacson said Pharmally could have profited P1.5 billion from the 2 million sets of personal protective equipment. The PPE sets were sold at P1,910, which it bought at P1,150 from a Chinese supplier.
"This is why we need to find out how much of the P42 billion was awarded to Pharmally in order for the committee to at least estimate the total profit that went to Pharmally and Yang," he said.
The amount was part of the funds that the Department of Health transferred to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management to procure face masks, face shields and other personal protective equipment for medical frontliners last year.
"The committee will have to sort out all the pieces of evidence consisting of testimonies under oath as well as the official documents that we have gathered so far from the agencies concerned," Lacson said.