THE FOUNDERS of Pharmally thought they had it made. We were in a once-in-a-generation pandemic, the government had license to act fast and spend billions of pesos in one go, and there was a global shortage of medical supplies.
“It was a time, I guess, the intention was… we are three young men. We were greedy and wanted to bite off a bigger contract,” said Huang Tzu Yen, the Singaporean co-founder of Pharmally. And they would have gotten away with it too, had it not been for a little-known auditor who died shortly before his report was published.
Enter Modus: The Pharmally Con, a new podcast by award-winning audio production company PumaPodcast. It takes the listener through the twists and turns that led to one of the biggest cases of pandemic profiteering in the world.
The six-part series — hosted by Lourd de Veyra — includes new interviews and discoveries about the rise and fall of Pharmally Pharmaceuticals. It’s a story of hubris, big money, and even bigger backers. It also shows the lengths the powers-that-be will go to, to protect the favored.
How did a six-month-old company with no money bag the biggest contracts from the Philippine government, edging out even local suppliers? How did it get away with bringing in medical supplies without an import license?
It was the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that removed the guardrails that were in place to prevent corruption. And as some people ended up driving Porsches and Lamborghinis, regular Filipinos had to keep buying and wearing face shields.
Produced with a sound design reminiscent of a classic crime film and Lourd de Veyra’s signature witty narration, the podcast is meant to be as entertaining as it is informative.
Every 20-minute episode will leave listeners wanting to know what happens next.
“The Pharmally scandal is proof that in a once-in-a-generation pandemic that killed so many, the people we trusted to lead us, failed us repeatedly,” says PumaPodcast Chief of Content Tricia Aquino in a press release.
The case is now in limbo, as most of the senators on the Blue Ribbon Committee are busy campaigning. Two of the Pharmally founders who are still detained are begging to be released on the grounds of “mercy and compassion.” One of the supposed co-conspirators is running for a seat in Congress in this election.
“We hope that the podcast will prompt reflection, especially when there are only a few days left until the elections. We are putting these candidates in the highest posts in the land. Will they wield their power responsibly, and for the public good? Or will they use their position to serve their interests?,” Ms. Aquino said.