Coalition: Pharmally ‘facts’ merit full probe

BusinessMirror screenshot from the livestreaming of the Blue Ribbon hearing on September 10 shows the timeline—presented by Sen. Panfilo Lacson—for the awarding of PPE contracts to Pharmally.

QUESTIONS of “how and why” on the scandalous circumstances revolving around Pharmally’s hogging over P10-billion in pandemic-related negotiated contracts will continue to fester, underscoring the need to allow a complete investigation by Senate probers.

The Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition made this obvious as it issued a comprehensive summary of the facts thus far unearthed in 11 hearings by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee—an inquiry that several former health secretaries and respected medical groups had said should be shielded from efforts to block the full truth, including an order by President Duterte banning Executive officials from attending hearings.

“Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation has hogged the limelight, and the ire of the members of the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon Committee) in 11 hearing days in the last eight weeks, or since August 16, 2021,” said the RTK-RNC in a summary released to media.

The “facts about Pharmally,” said the coalition, were based on official data of the Philippine Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) and the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement Service (PhilGEPS).

In all, Pharmally bagged a total of P10.85 billion worth of contracts from three agencies: the Procurement Service-Department of Budgment and Management (PS-DBM), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Transportation-Philippine National Railways (DOTr-PNR), according to the coalition’s report.

Such contracts “are altogether worth P8.52 billion in 2020 and P2.33 billion more in 2021,” and account for “16.64 percent or a considerable portion of the P65.19- billion total Bayanihan procurement funds disbursed as of September 8, 2021.”

Although Pharmally registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only in September 2019, with a paid-up capital of only P625,000, it “topped the GPPB list of suppliers with the highest total contract by May 2020,” or just seven months later.

Between April and June 2020, the total contract price awarded to Pharmally had reached P8.523 billion, “about 13 times its paid-up capital,” noted the coalition.

From May to July 2021, Pharmally secured P2.33 billion more in supply contracts from the government.

“Government online portals announce and post the procurement requirements and contracts awarded, including the Notice of Award or NOAs and Purchase Orders or POs, supposedly to promote transparency.” The major portals are:

PhilGEPS—for procurement from regular funds; and the GPPB Online Portal—for procurement from Bayanihan funds

Pharmally was awarded a total of 15 contracts amounting to P10.85 billion, but the coalition noted “four more duly signed NOAs and POs with combined value of P1.148 billion that have missing or gaps in records in both the PhilGEPS and GPPB portals.”

The paper trail indicates inordinate rush in processing the Pharmally deals, noted the coalition. “Within a few days or weeks, the supply contracts awarded to Pharmally were signed and sealed by the contracting officials, clear evidence that these were rushed or negotiated on fast-track mode.  Most of the 15 supply contracts that Pharmally got came one after the other, their NOAs and POs issued just a day or two apart.”

The P10.85-billion contracts that government awarded to Pharmally covered the purchase of over 17.53 million units of pandemic supplies, said the coalition’s report. “By value and volume, the biggest purchases included the 2.52 million units of PPEs [Personal Protective Equipment] worth P4.33 billion [or 39.87 percent of the total amount Pharmally got] and three types of test kits at worth P5.95 billion [54.82 percent combined].”

The next big purchases from Pharmally were surgical masks, MGIEasy kits, face shields, and surgical gowns altogether worth P574.8 million, or 5.3 percent of the total contracts Pharmally secured.

Copies of the NOAs and POs show the contracts with Pharmally were mostly signed by then acting executive director (DBM undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao) and the accountant of PS-DBM, and representatives of Pharmally.

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