MANILA, Philippines — Michael Yang, the Chinese businessman who was once economic adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte, insisted on Monday it was his friends, not him, who funded Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. when it entered into contracts with the government.
Yang made the assertion during the hearing of the blue ribbon panel at the House of Representatives, which has been conducting, along with the Senate, a probe into alleged anomalies in the Pharmally contracts.
According to Yang, it was not him who lent the money to make primary payments but his friends whom he had referred to Linconn Ong, the supply chain head and director of Pharmally.
Speaking through an interpreter, Yang said Pharmally representatives approached him for referrals to possible suppliers. Eventually, Linconn told him that the company had no financial capability. So Yang introduced company officials to some of his friends who might be able to support them financially.
According to Yang, there was no contract between Linconn and the friends he introduced.
“In actuality, Mr. Chairman, it’s the money of his friends,” the translator said, addressing the committee chair, DIWA Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay.
Aglipay then quizzed Yang about his role in Pharmally, which found itself in the hot seat after the Senate found out that it was able to bag contracts worth P8.7 billion with just a capital of P625,000 during the early part of the pandemic.
Yang’s statement at the House hearing contradicted what the Pharmally president, Huang Tzu Yen, said at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing last Sept. 10. According to Huang, Pharmally borrowed money from Yang, who also guaranteed to Chinese suppliers that the company could pay its dues.
Yang insisted at the House hearing that he did not know that Pharmally was joining the biddings for medical supplies until he was approached by Ong.
His interpreter told the panel: “Mr. Chairman, according to Mr. Yang, he had nothing to do with nor did he influence the award of the contract.”
Yang added that he was not even aware when Pharmally applied for registration until its officials approached him for referrals of suppliers and financing.
Pharmally became the center of public attention after Congress sought a probe into deficiencies in the management of P67.32 billion in COVID-19 funds of the Department of Health. The Commission on Audit flagged the deficiencies in its 202o audit report of the DOH.
Part of the COVID-19 funds is the P42 billion that the DOH transferred to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) for the purchase of medical supplies.
PS-DBM then gave the contract to Pharmally who priced face masks at P27 per piece, even though local suppliers were selling them at P13.50 per piece.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and past PS-DBM officials justified the procurement, saying that during the onset of the pandemic, prices were really high and supply was scarce.
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