Senators called on Friday, August 27th, Lloyd Christopher Lao, the contested former chief of procurement for the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM), for the award of COVID-19 contracts worth over P8 Billions to a company that had no track record, grilled and credibility to get involved in large government procurements.

At the third Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Laos legislature, for its failure to exercise due diligence on the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, among companies reported by Senators for supplying overpriced COVID-19 items to the government. Legislators stressed that Pharmally has had $ 8.6 billion in Senator contracts to date Panfilo Lacson asked Laos “what kind of due diligence was in the review of Pharmally before approving contracts with the company to head PS-DBM the company has faced the various issues raised by the committee.

“Either there was no collusion due diligence, or they were lazy to exercise due diligence, or they are sloppy, which I would not like to believe … government …. I wonder how they were able to contract out the procurement of billions of these items? “Lacson said.

However, Lao claimed throughout most of the hearing that he was unaware of any issues the legislature raised when he was the agency headed.

Regarding the bogus address, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Committee Chairman Senator Richard Gordon revealed that the owners of Pharmally in their General Information Bulletin (GIS ) used fake residential addresses.

This came after the Senate tried to serve its official summons for the hearing – only to learn that some were nonexistent, vacant, or barely occupied. “Simple care would have shown that the addresses were fake,” said Drilon.

Lao said that the GIS where addresses were given were not among the documents required by the PS-DBM. “The general information sheet is not required. That’s the only answer I can give, “he said.

He later argued that the PS-DBM could not verify that the addresses filed with the SEC were valid because the agency was not involved in the process was what Gordon criticized for beating Lao for “being very lighthearted with the people’s money”.

Drilon raised the issue of establishing Pharmally in September 2019, saying that if Laos would change the company’s articles of association If had checked, such information could be found along with other details about the company, including the fact that it only had about 600,000 pesos in capital.

Earlier, Senator Risa Hontiveros had also advised that one of the owners of Pharmally was also Was a board member of Pharmally International Holding, which is being investigated for fraud in Taiwan. But in response, Lao said he was unaware of the matter.

Senator Imee Marcos also pointed out that Pharmally had no evidence that a previously signed government contract was worth half the price of the contract – which is required by general public procurement laws.

Later asked by Lacson what the company’s track record of bidding government contracts was, Lao said he had “no information” on the matter and was only aware of the contracts that Pharmally ran in the PS-DBM.

Lao tried to justify the PS-DBM’s dealings with Pharmally by saying it had done its “best” to exercise due diligence while the company was in government in the first place Months of the pandemic allegedly offered the “cheapest prices” for items.

However, Senators had previously reported Laos for possible negligence regarding the failure called the PS-DBM to get COVID-19 items at cheaper prices than organizations like the Philippe Red Cross and Go Negosyo could buy supplies at a lower cost.

Senators, too, were dissatisfied with Laos’ responses and appealed to him because he is “evasive” when answering questions. Lacson, Drilon and Gordon urged Lao to find out how the PS-DBM had to do with Pharmally.

“Did you do it yourself or did someone tell you to outsource the contracts to these suppliers? Because you didn’t follow the right procedure, you threw all the requirements out of the window … so either you did it yourself or someone directed you to outsource the contracts to these suppliers because there was clear agreement, “Lacson said.” However, Lao did not provide any information and only stated that Pharmally was one of the companies recommended by envoys to the agency. Then he tossed it to the PS-DBM officials and said: “You have on file who confirmed you in our office. PS-DBM can answer. “

Drilon later preferred to refer the question of Pharmally’s contracts to the Ombudsman, saying Laos should be screened for” at least a transplant “.

” At least this gentleman should Lao will be held liable for anti-grafting, for entering into contracts that are grossly detrimental to the interests of the government and which they admit are not exercising the necessary caution to prevent this totally detrimental treaty “taking place,” he said. –

Sofia Tomacruz reports on foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories about the treatment of women and children.

Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Send her an email at [email protected]