"Are face shields a need in the fight against the virus, or a manufactured necessity meant to benefit a favored few?"
An employee of controversial company Pharmally Pharmaceuticals admitted during Friday’s Senate hearing that her bosses issued an order to repack substandard face shields for the Department of Health, and that this was tantamount to swindling the government.
The Higher Chamber has been investigating the company for cornering billions of pesos worth of pandemic-related deals despite the fact that it was only established in 2019 and lacked the financial muscle and track record to justify the sheer amount of said contracts.
The company’s only worthy asset, it appears, is its connection to some powerful decision-makers and the protection it enjoys from the very officials who vowed to stamp out corruption in government.
The face shields were found to be grossly overpriced — bought with taxpayers’ money at P122 apiece. That the company repacked yellowing, wet, old, and even dirty products before turning them over to the government is just one of the insults foisted upon a people long suffering from the scourge of the virus.
Face masks were also found to have been sourced from Pharmally at an overprice, when local suppliers were able to able to provide the same specifications at much lower prices.
After last Friday’s revelations, senators asked the employee, Krizle Mago, if she wanted to be placed under the Senate’s protective custody. She replied that she needed time to think things through and would give her answer by the weekend.
Alas, Mago was out of reach on Sunday, not responding to calls and messages, leaving many to wonder where she was, how she was, what she had decided, and whether she had been taken to task for exposing what she knew.
We hope to hear from her again, and soon.
In the meantime, authorities are keeping all of us in suspense on what the next policy regarding face shields in indoor settings will be. These face shields have become a staple in Filipinos’ daily protection gear even as many other countries do not recognize it, much less require its use, in the first place. There is an ongoing debate on its efficacy, and all the revelations are not helping us decide on whether it is truly a need — or just a manufactured necessity meant to benefit, and enrich, a favored few.
Mago asked for time to “think things through” with regard to submitting herself to the Senate’s custody. We, too, should think things through and ask how much more proof we need to acknowledge we have been lied to — and decide how we can correct this, once and for all.