Did Michael Yang act alone in P8.7-billion Pharmally deals? – Lacson
Senators will next seek to determine whether Michael Yang acted alone or in concert with “bigger and more important personalities” in the multibillion-peso government contracts bagged by Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. despite its measly capital.
The lawmakers also want to know how much Yang, an old friend and former economic adviser of President Duterte, profited from his loan to the trading company.
“The bigger mystery that has yet to be unraveled by the [blue-ribbon] committee is: Are there bigger and more important personalities behind Yang, or did he act on his own?”
Sen. Panfilo Lacson told the Inquirer on Sunday. He also said the committee should establish how much Yang, a Chinese businessman, earned from his personal transactions with Pharmally, which cornered P8.7 billion worth of contracts in mid-2020 and won more procurement deals this year, despite a paid-up capital of only P625,000 in September 2019.
‘Thrown under the bus’
In a bombshell testimony on Friday, two Pharmally executives said Yang personally loaned money to help the trading firm pay Chinese companies for medical supplies ordered by the Philippine government—belying Yang’s claim that he only introduced a Pharmally director to his friends among suppliers in China and had no role in the transactions.
Based on Lacson’s computation, Pharmally may have earned at least P1.5 billion for one contract alone in May 2020, by selling to the government two million personal protective equipment (PPE) sets at P1,910 apiece that it bought, using the loan from Yang, at P1,150 each from a Chinese supplier.
That means a profit of P760 per set, or at least P1.52 billion “just for that one single contract,” the senator said in a series of Viber messages. But it was not clear how the profits were divided, according to Lacson, adding that he received information that two Pharmally executives received only P50 million each, which made them feel they were “thrown under the bus” by Yang.
“This is why we need to find out how much of the full P42 billion was awarded to Pharmally in order for the committee to at least estimate the total profit that went to Michael Yang,” Lacson said.
The Pharmally contracts were part of the P42 billion in pandemic response funds that the Department of Health (DOH) transferred last year to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) to buy supplies on its behalf.
The Commission on Audit, however, flagged this transfer in its 2020 audit of the DOH for lack of a memorandum of agreement and other supporting documents.
Pharmally’s Singaporean chair, Huang Tzu Yen, testifying from the city-state, and a Filipino director, Linconn Ong, told the Senate that the trading firm had borrowed money from Yang—with Ong disclosing further that Yang had acted as a guarantor to assure at least four Chinese suppliers that Pharmally could pay them once the government had paid the company.
Neither Huang nor Ong could tell how much Yang lent, saying they needed to check their records.
Still, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in a radio interview that Yang could not be held liable simply for giving Pharmally a loan “unless he is part of a conspiracy in order to qualify Pharmally to bid even though it had no financial capacity.”
Lacson said the “measly shares of P50 million each” given to Huang and Ong were based on “initial information” that he received during a recess called by the committee.
“Reliable reports that some senators received during our last hearing is that the people of Michael Yang and unidentified government officials were frantically calling the two Pharmally directors during the one-hour break called by the chairman,” the senator said.
He declined, however, to disclose the source of that information. “If the two will finally decide to tell all in the next hearing on Monday, we can get a lot of information.
If they don’t for some reason, we will only rely on what they testified on,” Lacson said.
The committee chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon resumes its inquiry on Monday. Pastoral message Catholic Church leaders backed a full investigation into “any whiff of corruption” in the government, using the President’s own words to drive home their point.
They also said the “shameless” misuse of funds during a public health crisis “seems to break all records.”
Former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP Permanent Council member and Tuguegarao Archbishop Ricardo Baccay, and Nueva Segovia Archbishop Marlo Peralta issued their statement titled, “Joint Pastoral Message on the Culture of Murder and Plunder from the Metropolitan Archbishops of Northern Luzon,” hours after Mr. Duterte’s address aired on Saturday in which he threatened to attack senators investigating Pharmally.
“We commend, bless and encourage the full investigation, by those in authority, of any whiff of corruption,” the Church leaders said.
“We also reproach, rebuke and censure those who obstruct the legal process to arrive at truth and justice,” they said.
The bishops added: “It is like living in the valley of death—killing of drug users and opponents; helpless death in the pandemic, death by governance without vision, death by shameless corruption that seems to break all records. Killings! Murders! Deaths!” They urged the public to resist a “murderous and corrupt” government through nonviolent dissent, sober discussions of social issues, and rallies. They appealed to the youth to vote in the 2022 elections, as the only means to “make political authority accountable.”
—WITH A REPORT FROM MARICAR CINCO INQ
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