By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Joel Villanueva today raised red flags on signs that
Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which bagged tens of billions of
COVID-19 supply contracts from the Philippine government was a
During his questioning at the resumption of hearings of the Senate
blue-ribbon committee on anomalies in government spending on COVID,
Villanueva presented documents and data showing that Pharmally was not
properly paying contributions to Social Security System (SSS),
PhilHealth and Pag-Ibig Fund for its employees in 2020.
“It’s either you are fooling your employees or you are fooling the
government or both. Unfortunately, these records would not lie. Mr.
Chairman, I am just stating this, not only because
Pharmally only hired seven to 11 employees, but during this time, this
the committee emphasized the importance of hiring Filipinos first,” said
Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee.
“In Bayanihan 2, the law that we passed, Mr. Chairman, unahin dapat
ang Pilipino. Doon sa statements ng Confederation of Wearable
Exporters of the Philippines, nag-repurpose po sila. Ginawa nila lahat
ng magagawa nila para maka-hire ng mga Pilipino. Ano po ang nangyari
sa kanila noong 2020? They lost 25,000 jobs. Ang kapalit, ito po,
hindi nag-cocontribute man lang sa mga government mandated
contributions,” he continued.
“Indeed, they are not contributing to the government-mandated
contributions, PhilHealth, SSS and Pag-Ibig,” Villanueva said as he
presented records submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
“Kapag hindi po nagcocontribute sa SSS, Philhealth at Pagibig, marka
po iyan ng isang fly-by-night na kumpanya.”
Citing document submissions to the committee, Villanueva said records
at the SSS and Pag-Ibig showing that Pharmally was just paying
contributions for membership of seven to 11 employees.
SSS wrote to the Blue Ribbon Committee on September 13, 2021, which
says that Pharmally only started paying SSS contributions for its
employees for November 2020. Separate certifications from
Philhealth dated September 10, 2021, and Pag-IBIG dated September 24,
2021 likewise showed that Pharmally started paying contributions of
its employees starting November 2020 only.
Pharmally bagged up to P12 billion in contracts to supply the
Philippine government with surgical masks, PPE sets, and COVID testing
kits that were found to be up to 100 percent more expensive than
similar items from other companies.
It was found that Pharmally was just a middle man that earned from
commissions and had no manufacturing operations.
The employment of a very lean staff by Pharmally despite being able to
bag billions of pesos in contracts was a sign that its operations were
fly-by-night said Villanueva.
The company’s 2020 audited financial statement showed that Pharmally
paid P1.34 million in “employees’ benefits” for the entire year, which
Villanueva found it questionable considering that the certifications from
the SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-ibig said the firm only started paying
contributions beginning November 2020. (ai/mtvn)