PS-DBM to have matter investigated
MANILA (UPDATED) - A total of 19 folders covering nearly half a billion pesos worth of transactions that the government made with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals, Corp. went missing hours after being submitted to the Senate, a lawmaker said.
Pharmally is under inquiry for supposedly supplying overpriced medical goods to the government when the COVID-19 pandemic started last year.
According to Sen. Francis Pangilinan, his staff were able to download many of the documents detailing purchase orders (PO) uploaded through Google Drive.
According to Pangilinan, the documents contained around P4.4 billion worth of transactions.
One of the missing transactions also included a paper on the nearly expired test kits that the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (PS-DBM) bought.
The documents were submitted to the Senate through Jasonmer Uayan, PS-DBM's executive director, on the morning of Sept. 10. By the afternoon, 19 folders were suddenly missing, Pangilinan noted.
"[A total of] 19 inspection reports. It was there in the morning and it was no longer uploaded. Somebody from your end took it down," according to the lawmaker.
Atty. Jolas Brutas, director of PS-DBM's operations group, said while he has access to the department's Google Drive account, he is "not the one directly uploading and editing these documents. "
He said he would have the matter investigated.
Brutas added that they have provided a latest Google Drive account containing the inspection documents.
"We just clarified that the earlier submissions, we can only assume the reason why some of the documents were removed, because the earlier submissions pertains to PPE sets and loose items only," he explained.
Only administrators and owners of the link can edit Google Drive documents or folders, unless the authority gets shared or passed to another user.
Pangilinan said the each folder is named after the purchase order, with the corresponding number of the contract purchase: "In other words sa bawat PO, may acceptance report," he added.
The cover letter was signed by Uayan on Sept. 9, according to the lawmaker.
The contracts also inside the missing folders were the following, among others:
- various medicines from Medico
- 8,000 COVID-19 testing from Pharmally
- 2,000 A-star testing kits from Pharmally
- 41,000 BGI testing kits through Pharmally
"The submissions were on test kits, we were able to download it, most of the inspection reports deleted were on test kits," Pangilinan explained.
But Brutas reiterated the files, like the documents on the test kits, could have been left out because the file was about PPEs and loose items.
When asked if Uayan has access to the documents, he answered in the affirmative but he was also unsure.
Uayan was not able to attend the hearing after contracting COVID-19, according to Brutas.
Because of this, Pangilinan alleged a coverup within the PS-DBM, which Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon described as a "criminal offense."
Pangilinan also noted that 84 contractual employees from PS-DBM were removed last year and this year.
This may not be the first time that the PS-DBM tampered with a document, according to Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee.
The PS-DBM had earlier submitted to the committee documents through Google Drive, dated Aug. 26.
According to Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's Atty. Queenie Evangelista, the Google Drive was mostly on personal protective equipment (PPEs).
Contained in that Google drive is a particular set of documents referring to Pharmally's transactions this year worth P507.26 million.
The lawyer said they found out the development when they tried to review it a week after it was submitted.
"After making the timeline... we found that the whole set of documents were missing already from the Google Drive originally submitted by the PS-DBM," she said.
Evangelista also noted that the transaction was the last signed by former budget undersecretary Lloyd Lao.
Senators exposed alleged irregularities in the previous procurement of personal protective equipment through the PS-DBM.
Drilon earlier said the DOH's authorization of the transfer of P47.5 billion to PS-DBM was the beginning of a "grand corruption."
The Senate panel is investigating how the DOH used the country's P67-billion COVID-19 response last year that the Commission on Audit flagged for "deficiencies."