MANILA— Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said records speak for themselves after a Philippine budget official insisted in a hearing before the House of Representatives that there was no overpricing in the Pharmally supply contract for face mask, PPEs and other medical equipment.
“'Yung record ang magsasalita rito dahil kung ikumpara mo sa presyo na kino-quote o pagbenta ng ibang supplier, ‘di hamak na mas mataas ang galing sa Pharmally. 'Yun na lang pagbasehan natin kasi 'yung salita versus salita walang kahihinatnan so we refer na lang sa records, official lahat 'yun,” said Lacson.
(Let the records speak for themselves because if you will compare the prices from other suppliers, the prices from Pharmally were far higher. Let’s base it on that, we refer to records, those are official.)
Former PS-DBM director Warren Liong recently faced the House of Representatives panel investigating the Pharmally deal with government and denied that they were influenced by anyone in awarding the supply contract to the foreign firm.
Pharmally is under inquiry for supposedly supplying overpriced medical goods to the government when the COVID-19 pandemic started last year.
The pharmaceutical firm bagged some P8.6 billion in government contracts, including those related to the supply of supposedly overpriced anti-virus masks and face shields last year. The face masks were priced at P27.72 each.
“Kung kaya palang ibenta ng P13.50 ng ibang mga supplier pati 'yung isa yung Indian na 50,000 pieces, ganun din nasa mga trese rin, so namumukod tangi talaga 'yung presyo ng Pharmally na mataas. So bahala na 'yung mga kababayan natin ang maghusga kung may overpricing o wala,” said Lacson.
(If other suppliers sell for P13.50 a piece, so the price of Pharmally stands out as the highest. Let the public decide if there was overpricing or not.)
Senators had earlier asked the PS-DBM why it awarded multibillion-peso contracts to Pharmally, which only had about P600,000 in capital. It was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only in Sept. 2019, Lacson said.
He noted that Pharmally was not financially capable for such a massive order.
"'Yun ang dapat tingnan natin. Kung walang nag-impluwensiya, ewan na natin kung alin ang totoo kasi kung wala kang koneksiyon paano ka makapag-deliver, paano ka makasingil nang hindi ka pa nakakakuha ng purchase order sobrang bilis naman 'yun,” the senator said.
(That's what we should look at. If no one influenced [the outcome of the bid], let's just see what is true because if you don't have connections, how can you deliver, how can you get payment without a purchase order that's so fast.)
Meanwhile, Lacson said there are other pending submissions that they are still waiting for.
“Ang mga naka-pending bigyan kami ng imbentaryo ng lahat ng mga kontrata at kung kanino napunta. Ilan ang napunta sa Pharmally, ilan ang napunta sa EMS at iba pang mga supliers, mga contractors,” he said.
(We want to get an inventory of all contracts and who they were awarded to. How many went to Pharmally, to EMS and other suppliers.)
In an interview on TeleRadyo on Thursday, Lacson pointed out that they are not taking aim at President Rodrigo Duterte or anyone else.
Duterte's former economic adviser Michael Yang has been linked with Pharmally. The president has also several times pounced at the Senate investigation on government deals, even telling his cabinet to first get his clearance before showing up in the chamber's hearings.
“Ang tinitingnan namin dito sa gitna ng pandemya nagkakandahirap, maraming frontliners ang umaayaw na, 'yung kanilang SRA (special risk allowance) hindi dumarating tapos hirap na hirap mga kababayan tapos makakabalita ka ng ganito, na sa halip na 'yung pera na mapupunta sa kababayan natin doon pa sa China napupunta, tapos mas mahal pa. 'Yun ang isyu rito,” he stressed.
(What we're looking at here is that in the midst of the pandemic, when many are suffering, the frontliners are already giving up, they have yet to get their SRA and then you’d hear something like this; instead of the money going to the people, it goes to China at an expensive price. That’s the issue here.)
Duterte ealier said that government officials should get his clearance first before attending the Senate probe. The next Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing is on Friday.
Lacson said they will question other non-cabinet members if no one would attend the hearing.
“Limitado makukuha naming information pero sino mawawalan? It’s their loss. Hindi ito loss ng senado. More than the Senate, ang mawawalan dito taumbayan kasi gustong malaman ng taumbayan ang katatatohan tapos pagkakait mo,” he said.