Pharmally transactions with gov't subjected to special audit - COA chief

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2021 08:02 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Audit has launched its own special audit of Pharmally's deals with the government, which some lawmakers found questionable, the COA chief revealed Thursday. 

During the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Pharmally's transactions with government, COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo said there is basis to conduct a deeper audit. 

Pharmally supplied allegedly overpriced and substandard face masks, face shields and other medical equipment to the government through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).

"The special audit has already commenced. There had been a request for us during the budget hearing at the House. We already constituted a team to look into it. But then we expanded it into a special audit," Aguinaldo said. 

Aguinaldo earlier said state auditors found no overpricing in the government's procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) from Pharmally.

Asked if the special audit would include documents and the testimonies in the Senate hearing, the COA chief answered in the affirmative. 

The undertaking may be finished before the end of the year, he said. 

"The team was originally given a period of 45 days. But my estimation, tingin ko, hindi nila matatapos iyon for that period (I think they would not be able to finish that)" he said.

"We’ve been looking at the deliveries, to verify, or to remove any doubt pertaining to the issue of the deliveries."

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier called for a special audit on the multibillion-peso deals. 

Despite having a paid-up capital of only P625,000, Pharmally bagged P8.7-billion worth of contracts last year to supply the Philippines medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drilon also cited reports that Pharmally bagged additional contracts worth P2.3 billion this year.

Aside from alleging that Pharmally offered overpriced supplies, some senators also suspect that the firm was favored by government because of its ties with former Presidential economic adviser Michael Yang. 

The Duterte administration maintained that the deals were above board.

Gordon had said that public funds supposedly wasted on anomalous transactions could have been used for benefits of health workers who have been fighting COVID-19 in the frontlines. 

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