MANILA (UPDATE) - A witness on Friday said Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. asked workers to repack substandard face shields for the Department of Health, as an official confirmed changing the year on certification stickers of these items.
At the start of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Hontiveros showed a video showing a warehouse staff for Pharmally, who then alleged that they were changing the stickers of "expired" medical-grade face shields from 2020 to this year, as they included substandard products in their packaging.
According to the staff, they repacked face shields that were already yellowing, wet, old, and even dirty.
The witness, who was interviewed by Hontiveros' staff, said these products are meant to be distributed to health workers, as ordered by the Department of Health (DOH).
"Ang pinapagawa nila sa amin sa face shield is parang sobrang substandard po ng face shield na ginagawa namin, kahit yupi yupi na 'yung face shield, boxes, may mga madumi, pinapa-repack pa rin po sa amin nila ma’am iyun," the witness said.
(What they ask us to do is to include substandard face shields, they were already dented, dirty, they asked us to repack them.)
"Wala po silang pinapatapon na face shield… although substandard po siya, madumi, naninilaw, kahit nabasa," they added.
(They didn't want us to throw away face shields that were already substandard, dirty, yellowish, wet.)
Pharmally’s Krizle Grace Mago, meanwhile, confirmed that they are changing certification stickers of the face shields.
"That is something that I cannot deny," she said.
This was based on the instructions of management officers, particularly Mohit Dargani, Mago said.
Dargani is an executive at Pharmally.
"With regards to the changing of the stickers of the items, my response is this was a supply concern, I raised this concern to the management and that was the solution for us," Mago said.
But Dargani denied this.
"The instructions did not come from me... I am speaking the truth that no instructions came from me."
Mago reiterated that as an employee, she was only following instructions from the management.
PHARMALLY 'SWINDLED' THE GOVERNMENT
When asked by Gordon if Pharmally was "swindling the government," Mago answered in the affirmative.
"I believe so... I believe that is the case," she said.
Mago pointed out that they only tampered with the medical-grade face shields, and she could not recall doing the same with other products.
"If my memory serves me right, I believe it is only for this project."
Mago vowed to cooperate with the senators on the probe, but said she has to also take into consideration her position as an employee at Pharmally.
Later in the day, Hontiveros moved to place her under the Senate's protective custody. Gordon said she had to agree with this, if she wants to.
Pharmally is under inquiry for supposedly supplying overpriced medical goods to the government when the COVID-19 pandemic started last year.
Senators are questioning why the government bought what lawmakers said are overpriced anti-virus masks at P27 each and face shields worth P122 a piece.