The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Friday ordered the transfer of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. Director Lincoln Ong to the Pasay City Jail over his refusal to answer the questions of senators “bordering on perjury”.
“The chair orders upon the motion of Senators (Panfilo) Lacson, (Franklin) Drilon, (Francis) Pangilinan as approved by the Senate President. The chair orders the OSAA (Senate Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms) to transfer this man to Pasay City Jail,” Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, said.
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, during the continuation of the Senate investigation on the government’s spending of Covid-19 pandemic funds, first moved the motion of his transfer to the local prison after he “evaded” the questions of the legislators anew — now focused on how much money he received from businessman Michael Yang whom he previously named as “financier” and “guarantor” of his firm.
“Mr. Ong, I am sorry but clearly you are being evasive,” Pangilinan said.
“Perhaps there he would have the chance to reflect more on his answers because he is giving different responses again,” he added.
Ong, who was previously under house arrest after testing positive for Covid-19, has been staying at the Senate building in Pasay City after the Senate Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) collected him in his residence in Quezon City during Monday’s proceedings.
The Senate panel had previously issued separate warrants of arrests against him and Yang for being “evasive” to the inquiries of senators and “lying” under oath.
“I joined the motion of Sen. Pangilinan. I second the motion to move Mr. Ong to the NBP. in view of his refusal to answer bordering on perjury on a legitimate question on a valid question that we raised,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.
Extending sympathy to the company official, the legislators asked Ong if he would like to take part in an executive session where he can disclose all information that he has on the controversial transaction but he said that he wants to discuss it to his lawyer first.
The committee allowed him to talk with his lawyer for minutes but still refused to answer the queries.
Senate panel wants Pharmally official under protective custody
During the same hearing, Senator Risa Hontiveros moved to put Krizel Grace Mago — another Pharmally official — under the witness protection program.
This came after Mago admitted to the statement of a witness presented by Hontiveros who alleged that Pharmally is selling “soiled and substandard” face shields to the government that are meant for doctors and health care workers.
“I request the good chair to place Ms. Mago under the protective custody of the Senate. So, I move, Mr. Chair,” Hontiveros said.
Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, accepted the request but said that Mago should agree with it first.
Mago earlier assured senators she will cooperate with the investigation but said that she is merely receiving instructions from Pharmally corporate secretary and treasurer Mohit Dargani.
Dargani denied her claims and said Mago was the one who suggested repacking the “expired” face shields.
Senators, however, lambasted him saying he is trying to mislead the investigation.
“Your employee already admitted to doing it. You’re trying to question the testimony earlier when it fact your employee already admitted to it. You’re trying to mislead it into believing something else,” Pangilinan said.
“The good lady has made admission against interest. Under jurisprudence, admission against interest carry a lot of weight,” he added.
The witness who supposedly worked as warehouse staff in Pharmally from August to September this year alleged that Mago and other officials instructed them to replace the certificates of face shields dated 2020 with new certificates dated 2021.