Hontiveros: Taiwan govt official confirms Pharmally execs with ties to Michael Yang are 'fugitives'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) — A Taiwanese official has confirmed that top executives of Pharmally Pharmaceutical, which is in the spotlight for allegedly selling "overpriced" COVID-19 supplies to the Philippine government, are wanted in Taiwan, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Friday.

"An official from the government of Taiwan confirmed to me that indeed, the people we identified last time are fugitives," Hontiveros told CNN Philippines' The Source, without identifying the official.

Hontiveros was referring to Manila-based Pharmally chairman Huang Tzu Yen, Taiwan-based Pharmally International Holding Co. Ltd. chairman Huang Wen-Lieh, and China-based Full Win Group of Companies chairman Zheng Bingqiang.

She said the younger Huang has a standing warrant of arrest for breach of trust, while the older Huang and Zheng allegedly manipulated the stocks of Pharmally International.

READ: Head of Pharmally, PH's top medical supplier during pandemic, wanted in Taiwan

Connecting the dots

While Zheng heads China-based Full Win Group of Companies, President Rodrigo Duterte's former economic adviser Michael Yang is chairman of the company's local branch -- Philippine Full Win Group of Companies.

Hontiveros said Pharmally Philippines, Pharmally International, Philippine Full Win, and Xiamen-based Full Win have "interlocking directorates."

"Itong four na kompanya at groups of companies...may interlocking directorates, may mga common personalities na nagseserve bilang opisyal o director o incorporator nila," she bared.

[Translation: These four companies and groups of companies have interlocking directorates. There are common personalities serving as an official, director, or incorporator in the four organizations.]

"So how did these companies and groups of companies benefit doon sa (from the) term ni (of) Mr. Michael Yang bilang (as a) Presidential economic adviser?," she asked.

It is among the many questions that Hontiveros said she wants Yang to answer when he attends the succeeding Senate inquiries on the Health department's COVID-19 budget utilization in 2020. Another hearing is being conducted this afternoon.

The legislative probe stemmed from an audit report that flagged the DOH's "deficiencies" in its management of over ₱67 billion pandemic response funds. These include the transfer of ₱42.4 billion to procuring agencies due to the lack of "required memorandum of agreement and other supporting documents," according to the Commission on Audit.

Of the number, around ₱41 billion was given to the PS-DBM, a portion of which was used to buy the allegedly overpriced supplies from Pharmally. Officials in charge of procuring supplies for pandemic response have repeatedly denied the overpricing allegations, saying the items were bought at reasonable prices. They earlier said they purchased the items at a time when prices skyrocketed due to the scarcity of supply and sudden increase in demand.

Hontiveros said they have yet to see Yang's "solid connection" to Pharmally, but he seems to be the "common factor" or the mutual contact of persons involved in the company.

Duterte has repeatedly defended Yang, who has alleged ties to Pharmally. Early this week, the President said he was only a "middleman" and has no criminal record.