MANILA (UPDATE) - Those involved in the government's purported questionable deals with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals will possibly face criminal and administrative charges, a senator said Sunday.
There was "probable graft and corruption" and "gross negligence" in government's procurement supposedly of overpriced medical supplies, said Senator Risa Hontiveros.
"Habang nadadadagdagan ang aming ebidensiya sa overprice at pag-award ng mga kontrata sa 'di karapat-dapat na kompanya ay maaaring madagdagan pa ang aming rekomendasyon sa mga kasong kriminal at administrative na puwedeng ihain," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(As additional evidence on overpricing and the awarding of contracts to an undeserving company surface, we have recommend the filing of more criminal and administrative charges.)
Senators earlier said the procurement service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) may have favored Pharmally either due to its alleged ties with former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang or because several officials may have been profiting from kickbacks.
"Mayroon pang napipintong payments ang gobyerno sa Pharmally. Sabi ni [Pharmally secretary and treasurer] Mr. [Mohit] Dargani, full delivery na raw sila, pero 'di pa nakatatanggap ng full payment. Kaya alive yung panawagan ko na itigil na ng gobyerno ang pagta-transact sa Pharmally," Hontiveros said.
(Government still has pending payments to Pharmally. Mr. Dargani said they have fulfilled all deliveries but yet to receive full payment, which is why I'm calling on government to stop its transactions with Pharmally.)
Senator Franklin Drilon noted that at least P10 billion in supply deals have been bagged by Pharmally from PS-DBM since last year. This even as the private company only had a paid-up capital of only P625,000.
The use of Philippine Navy ships in delivering the purported overpriced medical supplies from Pharmally may indicate that President Rodrigo Duterte sanctioned what senators see as the government's preferential treatment given to the company, said Hontiveros.
The use of the Navy ships was confirmed by a PS-DBM official and was put on record by Drilon, she added.
"Pagka napatunayan namin ito, dagdag senyales na involved si President sa ganitong pagpapabor sa Pharmally kumpara sa ibang Pilipinong kompanya na mas may ‘k’ na ma-procure ang PS-DBM to the point na pati ang ang ating C-130 at barko ng Pilipinas ay ginamit para kunin ang supplies na ito," she said.
(If this is proven, it's an additional sign that the President is involved in favoring Pharmally compared with other Filipino companies which are capable, to the point that our C-130 plane and our ships are used to get these supplies.)
"Klarong di talaga sila puwedeng magdahilan na everything was by the book, walang maling nangyari d'yan."
(It's clear that they can't say everything was by the book, that nothing anomalous happened.)
Duterte has maintained that no overpricing happened.
He also defended former PS-DBM director Lloyd Christopher Lao, whom he said he appointed out of debt of gratitude, and Yang, who reportedly introduced him to owners of Pharmally.
Duterte has several times criticized the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's investigation into the alleged mismanagement of pandemic funds, saying it was a "fishing expedition."
The Presidential Security Group is not protecting Yang in a hotel in Davao, its commander Col. Randolph Cabangbang said.
"Personally, I do not know Michael Yang. I do not know his whereabouts, and definitely, no PSG personnel is securing him," Cabangbang said in a statement.
Senators said public funds supposedly wasted on anomalous government transactions could have been used for health workers' benefits as they fight COVID-19 in the frontlines.