Sen. Francis Pangilinan (File photo from a Senate livestream)
MANILA, Philippines — The Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) removed from its Google Drive some files regarding its transactions with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. because they were not included in the documents subpoenaed by the Senate.
The only subpoenaed documents were those related to procurements of personal protective equipment, PS-DBM Director IV Jolas Brutas explained on Friday before the end of the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee on alleged anomalies in the Pharmally contracts with the government.
"The reason why the documents […] were removed is because we just complied with the request or subpoena dated September 9, 2021 from the committee, requesting for copies of the inspection documents pertaining to personal protective equipment," Brutas said.
"The inspectors inadvertently uploaded copies of the documents pertaining to test kits and other non-PPE items. So that's the reason why they had to remove or delete some of the documents, in order to comply with what was requested from us, based on the subpoena," he added.
But Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who raised the issue of the missing files at the hearing, questioned the explanation.
"Mr. Chairman, I am not sure that it is entirely accurate because I requested for the submission of the inspection reports, Mr. President. And Mr. Uayan, if I recall, said they will do the same. And that's why we were starting to download it at 9 a.m. of September 10," Pangilinan said.
"I mean why will we download documents in the morning that we received [them] if we were not expecting it? So you better check your facts. Someone might have whispered something in your ear that isn't right," he added,
Pangilinan also expressed concern that the files could be "cleaned up," especially as the senators used the now-deleted files to back their claim that P550 million worth of COVID-19 tests from Pharmally expired without being used.
"Maybe they have been cleaned — I'm sorry, but I'm very concerned. Maybe the inspection reports and other documents submitted have been changed. I don't know," Pangilinan said, speaking partly in Filipino.
"I'm just concerned because we asked for the documents. We asked for the submissions, Mr. Brutas. But since you're not the one in charge, someone might be whispering to you the wrong things," he added.
In response, Brutas told the committee the PS-DBM would submit a full set of the documents.
He also noted that they are updating PS-DBM acting executive director Jasonmer Uayan about the Senate proceedings, as Uayan is in Davao after his mother supposedly died due to COVID-19.
"Nevertheless, we will submit a complete set of the inspection documents for all COVID-19 related procurement from 2020 until the present. And also we will submit a report detailing what happened regarding this Google Drive incident," Brutas said.
At one point in the committee hearing, Pangilinan accused PS-DBM of removing the files by the afternoon of Sept. 10, including some of which they were able to download in the morning of the same day.
Pangilinan said that this included19 missing inspection reports for P4.4 billion worth of contracts that the PS-DBM had given to Pharmally.
"In the morning there were 19 documents that were uploaded, and my staff went through it, and then when we had our hearing in the afternoon, in the session, when we went back in the afternoon of September 10, the documents were no longer uploaded, they were missing," Pangilinan said.
"September 10, it was submitted at 7:43 a.m. The cover letter was signed by Attorney Uayan, OIC, and the cover letter was dated September 9. So the e-mail contained the link to the Google Drive which is administered by your office and each folder is named after the PO — the purchase order number of the contract purchase," he added.
Pharmally is at the center of the Senate investigation prompted by a Commission on Audit (COA) report flagging deficiencies in the handling of the Department of Health (DOH) of COVID-19 funds amounting to P67.32 billion.
Part of that P67.32 billion is the P42 billion funds transferred by the DOH to PS-DBM. The procuring agency then gave P8.7 billion worth of contracts to Pharmally, despite its having a small capital of P625,000.
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