LIST: Everything you need to know about the Pharmally pandemic deals scandal

Mara Cepeda
LIST: Everything you need to know about the Pharmally pandemic deals scandal
Here's a wrap of all the stories in 2021 that you need to read and videos you need to watch about the anomalous pandemic contracts the government awarded to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation

MANILA, Philippines – One of the biggest scandals to rock the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte in 2021 is the string of anomalies hounding the multi-billion worth of contracts his government awarded to the notorious Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation. 

What started out as an inquiry into state auditors’ findings that the Department of Health (DOH) poorly spent P67 billion of pandemic funds in 2020 later turned into a full-blown twin congressional investigation into the nitty-gritty of the Duterte government’s pandemic contracts.

The Senate blue ribbon committee hearings uncovered that Pharmally cornered P10 billion in pandemic deals between 2020 and 2021 despite it being a small, newly created firm that lacked the funds, track record, and credibility to handle big-ticket government procurement. 

A Rappler investigation also revealed that Chinese businessman Michael Yang, a friend and former economic adviser of the President, has links to Pharmally through a network of companies that thrived during Duterte’s term. Pharmally officials said Yang was their financier and guarantor, although he denied this.

Among the officials embroiled in the scandal are longtime Duterte aide-turned-senator Bong Go and ex-budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, a volunteer election lawyer for the President who eventually headed the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM). Lao had signed off on the Duterte government contracts with Pharmally. 

As senators continued to expose Duterte’s ties with the personalities in the Pharmally controversy, the President defended his allies and directed his wrath at the Senate.

The House of Representatives, dominated by Duterte allies, followed the President’s cue and used their own hearings to counter the Senate. 

Now, there is a looming constitutional crisis after Duterte barred his Cabinet officials from attending the Senate hearings. Senators retaliated and questioned the President’s memorandum before the Supreme Court.

But senators are also facing cases of their own, as Yang and Pharmally director Linconn Ong have filed petitions challenging the lawmakers’ arrest orders against them. 

The Senate is undeterred, however, as the chamber detained Ong and the siblings Mohit and Twinkle Dargani for refusing to cooperate in the investigation. Ong and Mohit Dargani have since been transferred to the Pasay City Jail. 

Listed below are all the articles you need to read and videos you need to watch to brush up on the Pharmally scandal, grouped under the major topics that have emerged in relation to the issue:

COA report on DOH’s misused, unused funds in 2020
Pharmally’s links to Michael Yang
Red flags raised over Pharmally deals
Anomalies in contracts signed by PS-DBM
Bombshell testimony then recantation of Pharmally’s Krizle Mago
Senate arrest of Linconn Ong, Mohit and Twinkle Dargani
Duterte and House attack the Senate
Pharmally issue reaches the Supreme Court
Congressman restricts Rappler reporter’s access


Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.