Pharmally

Senate summons Pharmally accountant Jeff Mariano

Sofia Tomacruz
Senate summons Pharmally accountant Jeff Mariano

MORE SUBPOENAS. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon participates in the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on September 30, 2021.

Screenshot from Senate of the Philippines

Senators want to scrutinize the company's financial record, including its P33 million worth of donations and sales of P7 billion

The Senate blue ribbon committee investigating the government’s purchase of pandemic items is summoning Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation chief accountant Jeff Mariano as it ramps up scrutiny of the firm’s financial records. 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon formally moved to issue a subpoena for Mariano, after a series of questions at the panel’s hearing on Thursday, September 30, were left mostly unanswered by the Pharmally-linked individuals present, including its president Twinkle Dargani and its auditor Iluminada Sebial.

Senate blue ribbon committee chair Richard Gordon ordered the subpoena be issued following this. If Mariano refuses to heed the summons, senators may cite him in contempt and issue an arrest warrant to compel him to attend. 

Drilon tried to tackle the P33 million worth of donations Pharmally supposedly gave to various government offices, as well sales reported by the company. 

Sebial, however, did not satisfy senators’ questions as she explained she had not been able to obtain documents supporting the transactions. Sebial earlier said Pharmally only provided her with a list of its donations and that documents remained with the company itself. 

Asked who in Pharmally she coordinated with, Sebial cited Mariano. 

Later in the hearing, Pharmally President Twinkly Dargani denied knowing Sebial but said she knew Mariano. 

In previous hearings, Drilon said earlier that it was questionable how a large amount was donated when the firm – incorporated in late 2019 – had a starting capital of P625,000. 

Asked to respond to questions and submit documents on Pharmally’s transactions, Dargani said she “was not directly part of any of the transactions nor operations.”

Dargani agreed to share documents with the committee, but said there were some she could not submit to the committee, citing the bank secrecy law, corporate code, and data privacy law.

Along with issuing a subpoena for Mariano, Drilon requested that the committee also subpoena documents supporting the following:

  • Deeds of donation for P33 million 
  • Sales of documents to support sales of P7 billion 
  • Cost of sales of P7 billion 
  • Assets in foreign currency which generated unrealized foreign exchange gains of P63.2 million

In marathon hearings, senators have zeroed in on Pharmally, a small company owned by a Singaporean wanted in Taiwan. Lawmakers questioned how the firm, which lacks the capability and credibility to engage in big ticket government procurement, obtained the most government pandemic contracts. 

Senators said findings so far showed that Pharmally did not have the capability to supply the items and instead only acted as an agent or trader for Chinese suppliers and earned from a markup.

Pharmally has managed to bag a total of P10 billion in contracts so far, courtesy of the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.