Taiwan has been hunting Phamally execs, Michael Yang
Crime

Taiwan has been hunting Phamally execs, Michael Yang

Sep 2, 2021, 7:45 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

Senator Risa Hontiveros made public news clips and screenshots from the Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice showing that executives of Pharmally International Holding Company (the very same firm that the Duterte pandemic officials have tapped to supply PPEs and other medical supplies for Covid-19) and a business associate of Michael Yang, a former economic adviser of the president whom he had been defending to high heavens, are on the run from the Taiwan government.

Senator Risa Hontiveros made public news clips and screenshots from the Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice showing that executives of Pharmally International Holding Company (the very same firm that the Duterte pandemic officials have tapped to supply PPEs and other medical supplies for Covid-19) and a business associate of Michael Yang, a former economic adviser of the president whom he had been defending to high heavens, are on the run from the Taiwan government.

Huang Wen Lie, aka Tony Huang, is wanted for securities fraud, embezzlement, and stock manipulation. He is the chairman of Pharmally International Holding Company and was present in a March 2017 meeting with Duterte and Yang in Davao City.

His son, Huang Tzu Yen, is wanted for stock manipulation. He is ao-owner of Pharmally, the firm that got the biggest pandemic supply contracts from this administration, Hontiveros said.

She noted that Huang had been wanted in Taiwan since December 29, 2020, yet the Philippine government still signed off on a purchase order with his company last June.

Meanwhile, an arrest warrant is also out for Zheng Bingqiang for alleged involvement in Huang Wen Lie's alleged stock manipulation scheme, based again on Taiwan's investigation bureau website.

Zheng is a close business associate of Yang, and has been identified in Chinese news websites as president of Fu De Sheng Group, where Yang himself sits as chairman.

Why do business with fugitives?

'Why is Duterte government transacting with fugitives?' Bakit tayo nakikipag-negosyo sa mga taong may warrant of arrest pa nga sa ibang bansa?... Napunta ba sa isang embezzler, isang estafador ang COVID funds?" Hontiveros asked.

Rappler previously reported that Zheng was present when Yang toured Duterte in Fu De Sheng's office in Xiamen, China, in 2015.

Zheng was also present at the March 2017 meeting of Duterte and Yang with Pharmally International Holding Company executives.

Rappler showed how Yang is connected to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, the firm that got P8.7 billion worth of pandemic supply contracts.

Many of the contracts and purchase orders greenlighting these procurements were signed by embattled former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, who used to work under Senator Bong Go when the latter was still a Palace official.

Duterte, on Tuesday, defended Lao and Yang. He said Yang was the "entry" point of Chinese businessmen hoping to make investments in the Philippines. Duterte, however, did not explain if Yang's influence as his former economic adviser had led to the government awarding multi-billion contracts to firms he is linked to.

Are these the kind of investors we want?

Stop protecting these Chinese businessmen

Hontiveros called on Duterte to stop protecting these Chinese businessmen given the alleged multiple anomalies being uncovered by Senate blue ribbon committee investigating the government's pandemic funds spending.

She said that investors should bring in money to the Philippines.

"Mga seryosong issue ito na dapat tumulong at hindi mag-evade at mag-obfuscate si Pangulong Duterte... Gusto natin ng investors, pero anong klaseng investors? Investors ba? Parang tayo pa ang nawalan ng pera eh," Hontiveros said.

The opposition senator believes that the findings of the Senate blue ribbon panel, so far, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Duterte had slammed the Senate hearings as full of “malice” and warned that he would order government officials to either skip hearings or refuse to answer senators’ questions – even though investigating questionable government deals is part of the Senate's mandate.

Hontiveros said senators are undeterred by Duterte's tirades.

"Gagawa at gagawa kami ng paraan para singilin ang mga dapat managot.... Hindi kami Senado for nothing. Alam namin ang aming responsibilidad na gawin ang mga ito," said Hontiveros.

The Senate blue ribbon committee is set to resume its investigation on Tuesday, September 7.

P284-M savings

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Philippines would have saved P284 million in the procurement of pandemic response supplies in 2020 “without the need for a middleman.”

“If there was a government- to- government transaction, without a middle man, the Philippines would have saved P284 million as commissioned, as fees of Pharmally,” Drilon said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.

The Senate blue ribbon committee is currently investigating the controversial procurement of “overpriced” personal protective equipment (PPE), face masks, and shields by the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service on behalf of the Department of Health.

The company at the center of the probe is Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which bagged government contracts worth over P8.6 billion in 2020 despite being only several months old and having just P625,000 in paid-up capital.

“It is alleged that the government would have had to look for suppliers because of the tightness of the supply. They even had the Chinese ambassador assist them. If that is so, why do you have to go to a middle man, why not do a government-to-government transaction?” Drilon went on.

The minority leader pointed out that Pharmally earned P284.9 million in 2020 “from zero income in 2019” after winning the contracts.

Government’s defense

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the ongoing Senate investigation had not proven that the personal protective equipment (PPE) purchased by PS-DBM from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. was overpriced.

Pharmally also supplied face masks and COVID-19 test kits, which Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said were also overpriced.

“They can’t prove the overpricing of PPEs because they can’t show that the P1,700 at that time was overpriced,” he said in a press briefing.

Drilon on Friday said Pharmally’s PPEs were priced at P1,910 apiece, not P1,700, which was more than double the market price of P945 at the time, citing the PS-DBM’s own figures. Pharmally’s test kits were P1,720 each, nearly double the P925 sold by other companies.

Roque said the government’s decision to procure from Pharmally was based on the “price and quality” of the items offered by the company during an emergency.

National Covid-19 Task Force chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and his deputy, Secretary Vince Dizon, backed Roque.

Galvez said the President had ordered three million PPEs in just two to three days, a directive that “shocked” officials of the PS-DBM and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

After China sent a planeload of donated PPEs, he and PS-DBM chief Lloyd Christopher Lao asked help from Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian in referring a PPE manufacturer that could deliver three million PPEs quickly.

He said the military sent two C-130 planes and a Navy vessel to China to fetch the initial procurement of 600,000 PPE sets.

“Our objective is to save lives, not to make money. [The accusation of corruption is] very callous. We wanted to save our healthcare workers,” Galvez said.

He said 37 doctors and nurses had already died by then and 10 were in critical condition and intubated.

He said the government needed a “large volume” of pandemic supplies because hospitals were “pleading to us.” The objective was to find a supplier that could deliver on time at a “decent price.”

Undercapitalization

Roque said the undercapitalization of Pharmally, which was incorporated in September 2019, would be a factor under regular procurement processes, not an emergency like the pandemic. This would have been uncovered if a regular bidding were held.

“Despite the fact that their initial paid-up capital was only P625,000, they were able to deliver. Maybe if they weren’t able to deliver, you can complain as to why you awarded [the contract] to a company without resources. But given that all the PPEs that we need to save lives actually arrived and were used, I don’t think that’s an issue,” he said.

Roque challenged both opposition senators Drilon and Risa Hontiveros, to explain why the Aquino administration bought PPEs from the Quezon City-based Rebmann Inc. at a much higher price than Pharmally way before the pandemic.

The first purchase order for 2,500 sets, made on Sept. 28, 2015, cost P3,500 each. The second for 3,500 sets, on Jun. 23, 2016, was priced at P3,864 per set.

“If the administration allied to Senator Drilon and Senator Hontiveros bought PPEs, when there was no pandemic yet, at 3,500 per set, why do you besmirch the Duterte administration which in the time of a pandemic bought similar PPEs at P1,700? If politics is not the reason, why do they make a noise about P1,700 compared to P3,500?” Roque said. “Let us not be persuaded by politicians who are politicking this early.”

‘Like a true troll’

In response, Drilon told a radio reporter that Roque was speaking “like a true troll.”

“It is very unmanly and desperate of Roque to even mention my name. It is very malicious and it is a futile attempt to divert attention away from this organized plunder,” he said. “Just let Roque point to the real backer of Lao. Who is the backer of Pharmally?
“When Lao first brought out the price difference between procurements in 2020 and in 2015-2016 in September last year, he insisted that the Duterte administration got a much better deal than the Aquino government.

“Back then [under Aquino], there were a lot of supplies but [little] demand, so prices should be low. Now, demand is high due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so prices should be high,” he told the Inquirer then.

“But comparing both [2015 and 2016] procurement, we bought at cheaper prices in 2020 despite scarcity in supply and [high] demand,” Lao said.

Tags: #Covid19, #MichaelYang, #RisaHontiveros, #Pharmally, #corruption


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