The woes of the owners and executives of the beleaguered medical items supplier Pharmally mounted on Monday as the House of Representatives Committee on Good Government and Accountability recommended the filing of estafa charges against them.
However, the committee also let off the hook former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang and Christopher Lloyd Lao, former executive director of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management, “due to lack of evidence.”
“The evidence does not warrant or is not enough for cases to hold against Yang and Lao,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Michael Aglipay of DIWA party-list group, said.
The charges were recommended against the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. officials in connection with the government’s allegedly questionable purchase of medical supplies for the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Aglipay said the committee recommended the filing of syndicated estafa charges against Pharmally chairman Huang Tzu Yen, treasurer Mohit Dargani, president Twinkle Dargani, Pharmally director Lincoln Ong, and company officials Justine Garado and Krizle Grace Mago before the Department of Justice.
Aglipay read a portion of the committee report and explained that the act of Pharmally officials in soliciting supply contracts from the government despite full knowledge that it was grossly unqualified to do so was a “fraudulent misrepresentation” that only resulted in damage to the government.
“These acts of Pharmally officials are grossly aggravated by the fact that these were committed during the height of pandemic. By taking advantage of the more lenient procurement regulations under Bayanihan Act One, this matter, Pharmally gravely abused the system to the insufferable prejudice of the government,” Aglipay said in a press briefing.
He added that the company received and misappropriated public funds amounting to P8.68 billion.
Aglipay also said the case of Pharmally is “compliant with the element of syndicated estafa that requires the participation of at least five persons.”
He said his committee after having conducted a series of congressional investigations described as “extremely deficient in genuinely evaluating the capacity of a supplier” the requirements imposed by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) on suppliers under the emergency procurement of the Bayanihan Act One.
“One’s financial capacity cannot be proven by ITRs or ATRs alone, and an additional requirement such as Audited Financial Statements or credit history may be necessary,” Aglipay said.
“Likewise, documents that can attest to a supplier’s capacity to provide the specifications of the goods required, like (a) list of previous projects, may be required.”
Aglipay said the panel also recommended the filing of falsification of public documents charges against former PS-DBM executives Jorge Mendoza II and Mervin Ian Tanquintic.
The two had admitted that inspection reports were already signed even if COVID-19 supplies were still in China and were not yet checked by Philippine authorities.