COA to look into Pharmally-gov't deals in special audit

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2021 09:41 PM | Updated as of Oct 05 2021 11:02 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) on Tuesday said the budget department's procurement service (PS-DBM) inventory management regarding COVID-19 supplies and its transactions with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. will be thoroughly screened in their special audit. 

COA revealed the development during the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's probe into the government's questionable deals with Pharmally. 

According to COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo, the scope of their special audit also includes the common use supplies related to the COVID-19 pandemic that were bought by PS-BDM through its own funds.

"Their funds are sourced from their revolving funds. This is because these items that were procured by PS-DBM really went to their warehouse. Unlike items procured for Department of Health (DOH), the bulk of it were delivered directly either to Office of Civil Defense or the DOH or these various hospitals," Aguinaldo explained. 

The revolving funds involve the budget of other agencies which they use for buying common use supplies and equipment. 

The goal of the special audit, he added, is to check whether some of these items went to the DOH and the OCD, as well as the items that went to the PS-DBM warehouse. 

It is also important to involve the DOH and OCD's auditors for the matter and dig deep, according to Aguinaldo. 

"[We will] also look at the certificate of inspection and acceptance also do interviews at the same time to verify if indeed these goods were delivered, if there were any issues with respect to these goods and that they would be able to render a report based on the results of this audit," he said.

Aside from these, the subject of allegedly overpriced personal protective equipment would be also looked into, as well as the other issues that emerged during the hearing.

Aguinaldo was asked if the special audit would also encompass the P600 million worth of nearly-expired RT-PCR test kits bought by DOH through PS-DBM. 

"There should be a paper trail, we call that also the audit trail. Everything from the purchase order, all the way to delivery acceptance, including the disbursement through the disbursement vouchers, susuriin po lahat yan," he said.

Sen. Richard Gordon, the chairman of the committee, said the intent of the key people in the controversy should also be gauged. 

"Kailangan pag-aksayahan ng panahon na sigurado ba ito, tama ba yan kanyang capability? Pera yung mahirap. Kaya ba nito mag-supply, may manufacturing ba siya, at yun ba talaga ang pakay?" Gordon said. 

(We have to look into whether they really thought about this, is the supplier capable? The money is difficult. Can the company supply or manufacture? Is that really their intent?) 

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.

Duterte's former economic adviser, Chinese businessman Michael Yang, has been linked to the allegedly dubious deals.

Duterte had said the deals were above board. 

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