MANILA - Davao-based businessman Michael Yang on Thursday denied lending money to Pharmally executives and said he only introduced the firm to his "friends" who then gave them money to secure the government's supply deals.
Yang, President Rodrigo Duterte's former adviser, said he does not know how Pharmally Director Linconn Ong and Chairman Huang Tzu Yen "understood" what he did.
Huang on Sept. 10 had said the company had to borrow money from Yang to finance the procurement of face masks and RT-PCR test kits.
"We did receive Mr. Michael Yang's help. We borrowed money from him," Huang pointed out.
But the Chinese businessman said on Thursday: "Personally I did not [lend money]."
"I already answered this question, I already said that I introduced friends to him who made advanced payments… I introduced friends to Mr. Linconn Ong who were the ones who made the payments," he explained through an interpreter.
"This was not my money, I was the one who introduced friends to them," Yang added in Chinese.
When pressed by Senate Blue Ribbon Chairman Sen. Richard Gordon if he is accusing Ong, his former interpreter, and Huang of lying under oath, he answered in the negative.
"I am not saying that they are lying or they are liars, but maybe that is what they understood, what I did was introduce friends to help them financially," he added.
Ong last week said he "was not ready" to divulge information about his transactions with Yang.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier said Ong had divulged "very vital" information about Yang's role in supposedly financing the firm in its deals with government.
Ong had asked for an executive session to discuss such information but later retracted.
Some senators suspect Pharmally was favored by government because of its links with Yang. They also said the items it sold to government were overpriced.
Despite its lack of funds, Pharmally had cornered P8.5 billion in contracts with the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (PS-DBM) between April and June 2020, Gordon earlier said.
President Rodrigo Duterte denied there was overpricing and said the deals were above board. He also kept defending officials involved.
The panel has so far recommended the filing of various charges against Pharmally officers, Michael Yang, and former budget Undersecretary Christopher Lao, among others, due to the allegedly anomalous transactions.