Pharmally ‘borrowed money’ from Yang, to be paid with gov’t funds – exec
MANILA, Philippines — Former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang lent money to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. to aid the firm in fulfilling the country’s order of personal protective equipment sets (PPEs) last year, the corporation’s president admitted to senators.
“I just wish to state on record that we did receive Mr. Michael Yang’s help. We borrowed money from him,” Pharmally president Huang Tzu Yen said during Friday’s Senate blue ribbon committee hearing.
“Since we were not able to finance these things and we really needed to do that so that we will not get blacklisted, he offered to borrow (lend) us the money so that we will be able to pay for it,” he added.
Asked how much Pharmally borrowed from Yang, Huang cannot ascertain the amount yet.
“But we would pay him back once we receive the money from the government,” he added.
The Senate blue ribbon committee is currently investigating the procurement of “overpriced” personal protective equipment, face masks and shields made by the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service on behalf of the Department of Health last year.
At the center of the probe is Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. It was awarded government contracts worth over P8.6 billion at the height of the pandemic last year despite being only several months old and having just P625,000 in paid-up capital.
Yang was linked to the controversial procurement after a 2017 video showed him introducing Pharmally officials to President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City.
Huang’s admission comes after Yang denied earlier in the hearing that he had relations with Pharmally.
Yang, through his interpreter, had said he had no communications with them after the 2017 meeting with the President.
“I do not understand why Mr. Yang would say that; I thought he did a good thing,” Huang remarked.
Not Yang’s ‘dummy’
While the firm did borrow money from Yang, it was not a “dummy” for the Chinese businessman, stressed Huang.
“We realize that we’ve caused a huge ruckus but we just want to make sure that people don’t think that we are a dummy for Mr. Michael Yang, we have thoughts, we have visions, we work on our resources,” the Pharmally official said.
“We were too ambitious,” he added, admitting Pharmally did not have sufficient funds when the DBM-PS awarded it its first few contracts.
Huang also told senators that the company was only able to reach out to Yang after it was awarded government supply deals.
He said the firm no longer sought help from Yang on its government contracts to supply face masks and shields and for the deals, it bagged this year.
Upon hearing Huang’s admission, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon pointed out that the DBM-PS failed to see that Pharmally was not financially capable of fulfilling the contracts, hence, needing to seek help from Yang.
“Because Mr. Lao (former DBM-PS head Christopher Lao) is so arrogant and say that he complied with all the requirements, so here you are, the basic financial capacity requirement was not complied [with] because the grantee (Pharmally)… admitted that they had no funds and asked help from Michael Yang,” Drilon said.
“I don’t fault you for your ambitions; it is natural as a young businessman, you try to get the most and the best contract. [But] from the Philippines’ side, there were certain basic requirements,” the senator added.
Yang, for his part, maintained that he only introduced Pharmally to “friends who help make those advances.”
“On the earlier part of the contracts that Pharmally obtained, we have totally nothing to do with those transactions,” Yang’s interpreter told senators.
“Only towards the latter…when they had difficulty, we introduced them to friends who help make those advances,” he added.
Still, blue ribbon committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon pointed out that Yang’s earlier pronouncement was “not true.”
“This is all contrary to what Michael Yang said that he never had any dealings with Pharmally since March 2017…Now the cat is out of the bag…Mr. Yang actually lied to the committee,” he said.
“So it’s not true that since March 2017, you never had dealings with Pharmally…you provided them with the money,” Gordon said.
Before Huang disclosed that his firm sought Yang’s help, Gordon wanted the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to review all of Pharmally’s bank transactions.
“So we will know the money trail. I so direct the [committee director general—with the permission of the Senate President—that the AMLC be asked to find out whether there is a money trail to be proven here because there are so much billions of pesos that occurred here and we don’t even have the money trail where this money came from,” the senator said.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.