Ombudsman OKs graft raps vs. PS-DBM, Pharmally execs

By Benjamin Pulta

August 24, 2023, 8:50 pm

<p><em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires has approved the filing of graft charges against former officials of the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM), along with private individuals for irregularities in the 2020 contracts for more than PHP4 billion worth of RT-PCR Covid-19 test kits.

In a resolution dated Aug. 14, the Ombudsman approved the filing of three counts of graft against former PS-DBM executive director Lloyd Christopher A. Lao, former procurement group director Warren Rex H. Liong and former procurement management officer Paul Jasper V. De Guzman; and Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation president Twinkle Dargani, corporate secretary and treasurer Mohit Dargani, Phalmally director Linconn Ong, Justine Garado and Pharmally chair Huang Tzu Yen.

A separate charge of one count of graft was also recommended against PS-DBM administrative and finance group director Christine Marie L. Suntay, division chief Webster M. Laureñana, August M. Ylagan and Jasonmer L. Uayan, as well as Pharmally employee Krizle Grace U. Mago.

The charges said the accused government officials “apparently acted with manifest partiality and in bad faith for unlawfully and willingly awarding the contracts to a newly incorporated corporation and without any business experience with the government.”

The contracts cover the procurement of 8,000 units of BGI Real Time RT PCR kits in the amounts of PHP600 million, and 2,000 units of A*Star Fortitude RT PCR kits in the amount of PHP688 million, both on April 2020; and the procurement of 41,400 BGI Fluorescent RT PCR kits in the amount of PHP2.877 billion on June of that year from Pharmally.

"The award to procure various test kits from Pharmally despite its financial and technical incapacities to fulfill its obligation to deliver the multi-billion worth of test kits amount to respondents' willful intent to violate the rules" as provided in government procurement circulars," the Ombudsman said.

The charges noted that Pharmally was created and incorporated under Philippine laws only on September 2019 with an authorized capital of PHP10 million, but has only a paid up capital of PHP625,000.

"Obviously, Pharmally's paid-up capital of PHP625,000 vis-a-vis the total contract amount of PHP4.165 billion would show that Pharmally is way beyond its financial capability to acquire the test kits from foreign manufacturers," it added.

Despite the PS-DBM's claim that the firm had been able to deliver on other government contracts prior to the said deals, the Ombudsman noted that "PS-DBM failed to present any evidence of the contract awarded by PS-DBM to Pharmally to prove its competence to deliver the medical supplies,"

The members of the Special Panel of Investigators were Alteza A. Añoso, Clarisa V. Tejada, Gretchen C. Duran, Maria Vida G. Hechanova, Bonifacio G. Mandrilla, Medwin S. Dizon and Moreno F. Generoso. (PNA)