Senators flag millions earned by Pharmally, TigerPhil from mask procurement deal with govt

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — The government's top medical supplier Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. and its supplier TigerPhil Marketing Corp. bagged millions of pesos in profits from the sale of face masks during the onset of the pandemic, senators said on Tuesday.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon presented a sales invoice for 500,000 masks that TigerPhil bought from its supplier Greentrends Trading Int'l Inc. priced at ₱18 each. Another sales invoice showed TigerPhil sold the masks for ₱23.90 per piece to Pharmally — which then offered the items to the government for ₱27.72 each.

This means TigerPhil paid Greentrends a total of ₱9 million for the masks while Pharmally bought the items from Tigerphil for ₱11.9 million.

As a result, Gordon and Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said TigerPhil earned ₱2.9 million from the transaction while Pharmally got a ₱1.9-million profit. Lacson, however, added they do not know how much Greentrends profited from the sale.

Meanwhile, the request for quotation presented during the hearing showed the contract for 500,000 masks had an approved budget of ₱8 million with a unit price of ₱28. This means the masks cost the government a total of ₱14 million a huge discrepancy that Gordon noted.

"Ang dumating galing kay [former DBM Usec.] Mr. [Lloyd Christopher] Lao sa iyo, ₱8 million pero pagbalik na sa kanya, ₱14 million. Parang sleight of hand. Ang talagang inorder niya ay hindi pinapakita na ganon kalaki ang ibabayad sa kanya," the senator said as he questioned Pharmally official Krizle Grace Mago.

[Translation: What arrived to you from Mr. Lao was ₱8 million but it was already ₱14 million when it returned to him. It's like a sleight of hand. What he really ordered does not show how much was actually paid to him.]

Senators earlier questioned Pharmally for its supposed same-day delivery of 500,000 face masks, with the company eventually admitting it acquired them from TigerPhil as they had no such items in their inventory at that time. 

Allegations of overpricing in face masks and face shields purchased by the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Health are among the controversies at the center of the legislative probe into the handling of the government's COVID-19 response funds.