Senate panel can't contact Pharmally exec who testified on face shields

Senate panel can't contact Pharmally exec who testified on face shields
Pharmally executive Krizle Grace Mago attends a Senate blue ribbon committee on Sept. 24, 2021.
Screen grab / Senate of the Philippines YouTube page

MANILA, Philippines — The Pharmally exec who said that the firm changed the expiry dates on medical-grade face shields delivered to the government can no longer be reached by the Senate panel looking into deficiencies in the government's coronavirus spending. 

This was confirmed by Sen. Richard Gordon, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. 

"Pharmally Pharmaceutical official Krizle Mago can no longer be contacted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee," Gordon tweeted in Filipino on Sunday. 

"During the ninth hearing, we offered her the opportunity to be given Senate protection but she said she wanted to think about it first."

This comes after Mago told the panel that she was directed by higher-ups to order warehouse staff to change expiry dates on medical-grade face shields being handled by Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

"That is something I can't deny," Mago said at Friday's Senate hearing when confronted with video statements from warehouse  workers. Asked if she felt that the company swindled the government, Mago said: "I believe that is the case."

The corporation, now at the center of an investigation by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, was awarded the government's largest pandemic contracts despite having capital of just P625,000.

'Mago promised she would get back to them after hearing'

At the hearing, the office of Sen. Risa Hontiveros presented video testimonies from unidentified warehouse workers who said they were told to replace the certificates of face shields dated 2020 with new certificates dated 2021.

Mago then admitted the company sold expired and substandard face shields to the government meant for doctors and healthcare workers.

Pressed for details, Gordon's office told reporters in a Viber message that the Senate panel "asked for Ms. Mago’s address and exact location for the protection they offered her" at 5:47 p.m. on Friday upon the instruction of Gordon.

Some two hours later, "Mago said to the Committee that she will get back to them after the hearing."

The Senate followed up early Sunday morning but received no response.

The committee tried calling her number an hour later at 9 a.m. but found that she could no longer be reached.

'No swindling without helper'

Even President Rodrigo Duterte is ramping up the pressure on the Senate for its investigation into government purchases, most recently accusing Gordon of using his position as chair of the Philippine Red Cross to fund his electoral campaigns. 

Speaking on her weekly radio show aired over dzXL, Vice President Leni Robredo said that the "swindling" of government funds "wouldn't have happened if there was nobody sitting in power who was helping them."

 "It's not true that there is no money (for pandemic response). There is money but the person sitting in power is earning off this...I hope there is no more coverup," she said in Filipino. 

— with reports from Bella Perez-Rubio 

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