MANILA – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is conducting a probe on Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., a company that supplied allegedly overpriced and substandard face masks, face shields and other medical equipment to the government.
President Rodrigo Duterte has blasted the Senate blue ribbon committee’s conduct of the hearings, calling them a “waste of time.” He has also repeatedly insulted Senator Richard Gordon, who chairs the committee.
His former economic adviser, Michael Yang, has been linked to the allegedly dubious deals.
While a congressman has said that there is nothing wrong with government’s deals with Pharmally, senators have found a number of problems with government’s deals with the firm.
Here are some of them:
1. Pharmally contributed to delays in COVID-19 testing, senator says
Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp's failure to deliver complete RT-PCR test kits hampered the Philippines' ability to test Filipinos for COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic last year, Senator Francis Pangilinan said.
Pharmally only provided the extraction kits 2 months after it delivered the RT-PCR test kits, which rendered the COVID-19 testing items useless, he noted.
2. Pharmally delivered 500,000 face masks ahead of purchase order
Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp delivered 500,000 pieces of surgical face mask to the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (PS-DBM) ahead of an official purchase order from the government agency, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee learned.
The delivery was made on March 25, 2020, the same day Pharmally received an email from PS-DBM for proposal of the item and days before the latter issued the corresponding purchase order.
3. Pharmally failed to show deeds for P33-M donation to PH government
Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp officials failed to show formal deeds of donation for the P33-million worth of goods they allegedly gave to several Philippine government entities. Senators had previously flagged this as “unusual” coming from a small company with an initial capitalization of P599,000.
"Aya," the secretary of Pharmally secretary and treasurer Mohit Dargani, just gave a list of donation recipients, company auditor Iluminada Sebial told senators.
4. Pharmally execs bought new luxury vehicles after bagging gov’t contracts
Pharmally executives Linconn Ong, Mohit Dargani, and his sister Twinkle Dargani had at least 4 luxury vehicles registered less than a year after the company supplied allegedly overpriced face masks and RT-PCR test kits to government, Gordon revealed in the Senate probe.
Records showed that Twinkle Dargani had a 2021 Lamborghini Urus registered under her name in December 2020, about 9 months since their first transaction with the PS-DBM. That vehicle is worth P25 million.
Five months later, her brother Mohit got a 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S registered under his name. The car costs P8.5 million.
Ong registered a 2021 Porsche Carrera 4S - worth P13.5 million - in February 2021, while his 2021 Lexus RCF - worth P5.9 million - was registered after 5 months.
5. Gov't lost nearly P5M in first face mask procurement deal with Pharmally
The government lost nearly P5 million in its first transaction with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp for the procurement of face masks, senators said after discovering that the firm sourced some half a million pieces of the protective gear from a middle man.
The face masks Pharmally delivered to the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (PS-DBM) was from Tigerphil Marketing, which got the items from Greentrends Trading.
Tigerphil earned P2.95 million from the deal with Pharmally, while the latter's profit from its first transaction with the PS-DBM amounts to P1.91 million.
6. Documents on Pharmally-DBM deals 'went missing'
A total of 19 folders covering nearly half a billion pesos worth of transactions that the government made with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals, Corp. went missing hours after being submitted to the Senate.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said his staff were able to download many of the documents detailing purchase orders (PO) uploaded through Google Drive.
According to Pangilinan, the documents contained around P4.4 billion worth of transactions.
7. Pharmally told workers to repack substandard face shields for DOH, says witness
A warehouse staff for Pharmally said the company asked workers to repack substandard face shields for the Department of Health.
According to the staff, they repacked face shields that were already yellowing, wet, old, and even dirty.
He also said that they were changing the stickers of "expired" medical-grade face shields from 2020 to 2021.
When asked by Gordon if Pharmally was "swindling the government," Mago answered in the affirmative.
"I believe so... I believe that is the case," she said.
Mago is now out of reach. Senators earlier offered her protective custody following her statement.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, however, has said that she is safe.
8. Pharmally exec says president of Business Beyond Limits OPC, which also got a P30 million contract to supply face shields to government, is his girlfriend
Pharmally executive Mohit Dargani admitted that he is in a relationship with Sophia Mercedes Custodio, the president of Business Beyond Limits OPC.
The said company also bagged a more than P30 million deal to supply face shields to PS-DBM.
“As a friend, and before we became together, I offered if she wanted to do business together, the best idea at the time was to put up an OPC (one person corporation),” he said.
Dargani said Business Beyond Limits had a joint venture with Pharmally, but insisted that Custodio herself is not involved in Pharmally’s operations.