Malacañang on Wednesday denied that the influence of former economic adviser and businessman Michael Yang led to the government’s decision to buy over P8 billion worth of Covid-19 medical supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.
Yang’s name was brought up in a Senate hearing last week after video footage was played showing the Chinese Davao-based businessman and President Rodrigo Duterte meeting with officials of Pharmally in 2017.
“Personalities had nothing to do with this. What they looked at were the price and quality,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing in Filipino.
Roque said the government, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), requested quotes of items from suppliers before actually awarding the government contract to Pharmally.
“They ask for quotes from multiple sources. And they decide on who to award the contract on the basis of the quotes submitted. Just because there’s no bidding, it doesn’t mean they don’t ask for multiple quotes,” he added in Filipino.
Amid concerns over the purchase of alleged “overpriced” personal protective equipment (PPE), Roque said the PPEs worth P1,700 purchased by the government were cheaper than the PPEs worth P3,500 bought during the previous administration.
“Ultimately, it’s the price and the specification that matters. It’s the price that matters whoever you may be. Unfortunately, no company was able to give them for the price of P1,700,” he said partly in Filipino.
In a public address aired last Tuesday, Duterte defended Yang by pointing out that he has been in business for some 20 years.
He cited Yang’s ties with former Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, saying he even accompanied the ex-envoy in meetings.
Duterte also said the process of emergency procurement is consistent with existing laws such as Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, Government Procurement Policy Board issuances (GPPB), and other further of RA 11469 of Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.
Under the Bayanihan Act, the government may undertake the procurement of PPEs and other medical supplies “in the most expeditious manner” as exemptions from RA 9184 and other relevant laws.
The law also allows “emergency” negotiated procurement “in case of imminent danger to life or property during a state of calamity, or when time is of the essence arising from natural or man-made calamities or other cases where immediate action is necessary.”
Last week, senators expressed concern why a bulk of government contracts for the purchase of Covid-19 medical supplies went to Pharmally, which existed only six months before the pandemic.
Pharmally was registered in September 2019 with the Securities and Exchange of Commission with a paid capital of P625,000.