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Senators question Pharmally’s ‘same day delivery’ of 500K masks to DBM-PS

/ 01:23 PM September 13, 2021

MASK UP A tarpaulin reminding the public to wear face masks is installed at the busy corner of Quezon Avenue and Agham Road in Quezon City. With COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila remains high, the Department of Health says people should not be complacent and continue observing minimum health and safety protocols. INQUIRER file photo / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — Several senators on Monday questioned how Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. was able to deliver 500,000 pieces of face masks on the same day the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) emailed a request for quotation (RFQ) for the purchase of the items.

During the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, Pharmally official Krizle Mago told senators that the firm received an email from the DBM-PS on March 25, 2020.

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Attached in the said email is an RFQ for the purchase of face masks, according to Mago.

“The RFQ has five lots na ibi-bid. We only joined Lot 5 for 500,000 pieces of face masks,” Mago noted.

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Mago said she responded to the email on March 26, 2020.

But upon further questioning by Senate Richard Gordon, Mago, citing records, told the committee that Pharmally was already able to deliver the face masks on March 25, the same day as the email from the DBM-PS.

“We delivered on time…we delivered po on March 25, 2020 based on my records,” she said.

Furthermore, she said that the purchase order for the mask—which Pharmally offered at P27.72 apiece—only came on April 6 while they received the payment on April 15.

Mago noted that the cost of these masks amounted to a total of P13.86 million but they were paid only P12.97 million since certain taxes, like the expanded withholding tax and final value-added tax, were deducted.

The timeline of the delivery and payment baffled some senators.

“Is that correct? So same day delivery? Walang negotiation, walang paguusap, email lang?” Senator Francis Pangilinan said.

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(Is that correct? So same day delivery? No negotiations, just email?)

“Parang Grab delivery lang (It’s like a Grab delivery),” Gordon, for his part, remarked.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon likewise expressed confusion. “This is very confusing…I suspect that this is a ghost delivery.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, cited a Commission on Audit (COA) report presented during last week’s hearing which showed that the purchase order for the 500,000 units of face masks was dated April 16.

“Quoting the official COA report that the purchase order for 500,000 surgical face masks dated April 16, 2020, I am wondering how they were able to collect on the 15th of April,” Lacson said.

“They collected on the 15th but the purchase order was on the 16th. We want this clarified,” he added.

Senators also quizzed Mago on how they were able to supply the 500,000 units of masks immediately when she initially said Pharmally did not have available stocks in its inventory at the time.

“At that day, we don’t have the stocks in our warehouse but negotiated with a supplier who can deliver on the same day,” Mago said.

Her answer, however, did not satisfy the senators.

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, which 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.

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