Pharmally grilled over social security contributions for workers

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2021 07:16 PM | Updated as of Oct 05 2021 08:18 PM

MANILA - A senator on Tuesday questioned Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. over its payment of over P1.3 million in benefits even if it had supposedly failed to make government-mandated contributions. 

According to Sen. Joel Villanueva, Pharmally was only able to make mandatory contributions in November last year, according to the certifications they received from PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, and the Social Security System (SSS). 

Pharmally was able to pay P1,343,379 in employee's benefits last year alone based on their financial statement submitted to the Blue Ribbon Committee, the lawmaker added. 

Meanwhile, based on documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company was registered on Sept. 4, 2019.

This prompted Villanueva to ask Huang Tzu Yen, Pharmally's chairman and president, if they even had any employees between Sept. 2019 and October 2020. 

Huang answered indirectly in the affirmative.

"You’re saying there are employees but according to these records, you are not paying government mandated contributions," Villanueva said, citing an experience of a Pharmally pharmacist named Anna Marie Chua. 

Chua was supposedly a regular employee at the firm, but claimed her SSS, Pag-IBIG, and PhilHealth contributions were not paid. 

The firm only had 7 to 11 employees, the lawmaker pointed out. 

'DELAY'

Huang attributed the allegations to a "delay" after they transferred their employees from now-"defunct" Pharmally Biological Company. 

"A bulk of our employees, were transferred from [Pharmally] Biological Company, as that company was defunct. At the time, we are paying their contributions still in Pharmally biological. It is an administrative delay," said Huang. 

The Pharmally executive also denied that they failed to pay their employees' contributions to the government.

Huang said if that the case was true, they would have had addressed it.

"Based on my memory, all of the employees, perhaps there was a delay signing them under a correct company, however they are always rightfully compensated by the company and their benefits are rightfully compensated in accordance with our contracts with them," he explained. 

This was hard to believe, according to Villanueva, because it seemed that they hardly had any employees. 

"If you don’t have employees, if you look at the general and administrative expenses of Pharmally in 2020, where’s this employee’s benefits come from? You don’t have employees, you are not contributing," the lawmaker noted.

"It’s either sir, you are fooling your employees or you’re fooling the government or both."

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is currently conducting a probe on Pharmally, a company that supplied allegedly overpriced and substandard face masks, face shields and other medical equipment to the government.

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

Video from Senate of the Philippines