THE apparent conspiracy involving the company Pharmally and some government officials has cost billions of public funds, loss of jobs and lives, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Friday.
“Napakalungkot dahil nga habang maraming namamatay, nagkakasakit, at walang maliwanag o sustained na support sa ating frontliners, eto ang nangyayari,” Pangilinan said in a media interview.
“Clearly, there was conspiracy to defraud government of billions of pesos worth of COVID funds,” he said.
The opposition leader and aspiring vice president highlighted the many criminal charges Pharmally executives and government conspirators will have to face following the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation.
The Senate committee earlier this week released its preliminary report recommending charges versus Michael Yang, Pharmally executives, and officials from the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM).
“Unang-una, ang ating mga batas sa procurement, hindi sinunod. Violation of our procurement laws, even Bayanihan I and Bayanihan II laws. Anti-graft laws din and plunder cases kasi giving unwarranted benefits sa isang kompanya that has caused injury to the government,” Pangilinan said, noting also criminal negligence for testing kits that have expired in storage.
“Nag-expire sa kanilang mga storage facilities habang kulang na kulang ang testing. Ginastos natin ang kalahating bilyon tapos tinapon lang natin dahil nag-expire na,” he said.
It was Pangilinan who revealed purchases of testing kits that were left to expire or were purchased near-expiry in direct violation of PS-DBM’s own technical requirements.
These deals potentially cost the public P1.25 billion by paying in full for COVID test kits that are near-expiry, and P550 million for test kits that have expired.
With local jobs lost reaching 25,000 by failing to support local manufacturing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), Pangilinan said that the government has favored Pharmally over and above.
“Mga kompanyang foreign na para bagang showing that they are above Philippine laws by refusing or failing to pay taxes sa mga transaction nila. Ni walang permit to operate at wala nang business permit… Inuna yung mga foreigners, yung imported na mga produkto kesa sa mga local,” he said.
While Malacanang continues to deny allegations of overpricing and violation of contracts, the Commission on Audit launched a special audit on the government deals with Pharmally.
As of October 21, COVID death toll has reached 41,237.