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Ombudsman orders graft charges vs officials involved in Pharmally fiasco
Ombudsman orders graft charges vs officials involved in Pharmally fiasco
Ombudsman orders graft charges vs officials involved in Pharmally fiasco
by Christhel Cuazon24 August 2023

The Office of the Ombudsman has recommended the filing of charges against former government officials and Pharmally executives involved in the PHP 4 billion worth of controversial purchase of COVID-19 test kits in 2020.

In its 37-page resolution dated August 14, the Ombudsman ordered the filing of three counts of graft charges against former Budget undersecretary Christopher Lao, DBM procurement director Warren Liong, DBM procurement management officer Paul Jasper de Guzman, and Pharmally officials Twinkle Dargani, Linconn Ong, Justine Garado, and Huang Tzu Yen.

"There is no doubt that without the individual acts of the aforementioned respondents, the procurement of the test kits would not have materialized. Respondents concerted and conspirational acts enabled the award of the multi-billion worth of contract to Pharmally, notwithstanding the existence of other corporations that are financially and technically capable to supply and deliver test kits at lower prices," the order read.

Other PS-DBM officials, meanwhile, will face one count of graft. This includes ex-PS-DBM executives Christine Marie Suntay, Webster Laureñana, August Ylagan, and Jasonmer Uayan and Pharmally employee Krizle Mago.


According to the Ombudsman, the Pharmally received a PHP 4 billion government contract even if its paid-up capital is only P625,000.

“Said award to Pharmally was a complete disregard of the provision that the procuring entity should directly negotiate or procure from a legally, technically and financially capable supplier, distributor, manufacturer, contractor or consultant as embodies in the Government Procurement Policy Board and the Procurement law,” the decision read.

In February 2022, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee recommended graft, corruption, and plunder charges against Pharmally executives and several public officials, including former Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, for transferring more than PHP 41 billion from the DOH’s COVID-19 fund to the PS-DBM, a portion of which was used to purchase medical goods from Pharmally.

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