Senate panel orders transfer of Pharmally exec to city jail
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate blue ribbon committee ordered the transfer of an official of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. currently detained in the Senate to the Pasay City Jail for refusing to disclose the amount the firm borrowed from former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang.
During Friday’s hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Francis Pangilinan moved to have Pharmally director Linconn Ong transferred to the city jail for continuing to evade senators’ queries.
Before this, senators kept prodding Ong on the amount Yang had lent the company to help them fulfill some of the government’s medical supply orders last year.
Despite repeated questions from senators, Ong maintained he cannot divulge the amount, citing a supposed non-disclosure agreement.
“You will never be able to leave the custody of the Senate with your very evasive answers. Uulitin ko lang po [I will repeat], you said Mr. Yang helped you financially, how much did you borrow from him?” Drilon asked again.
But Ong would not budge, saying senators should instead ask Yang himself.
Yang, however, has maintained it was his friends, and not him, who helped Pharmally with funding.
At this point, Pangilinan moved to have Ong transferred to the New Bilibid Prison. Drilon seconded the motion.
Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, had given Ong another chance to change his mind and answer the senators’ questions.
“I suggest you cooperate, I don’t want to send you to the Bilibid,” Gordon said, to which Ong argued that he is indeed cooperating with the Senate.
Ong still did not give a categorical answer.
Asked if he would opt to divulge details in an executive session, Ong said he would have to consult with his lawyer.
Gordon allowed Ong to call his counsel for a few minutes but warned he will be transferred to prison if he “persists in this attitude.”
“I didn’t want you to go to jail but if you persist on this attitude, then I will have no recourse but to either put you in Bilibid or in the [Pasay City] Jail which is nearer to the Senate,” Gordon said.
“I must warn you, we’re trying to bend over backwards for you….Kumampi ka sa Pilipinas ‘di yang sa mga yan [Side with the Philippines],” he added.
In the end, Gordon decided to transfer Ong to the Pasay City Jail.
This after Gordon raised questions to Pharmally chairman and president Huang Tzu Yen about how it was able to finance its deliveries to the government.
Huang’s answers, however, did not satisfy the senators.
Face mask supplier
The Senate panel, meanwhile, sought the arrest of five officials of Greentrends Trading International Inc., the firm that supplied 500,000 masks to Tigerphil Marketing — Pharmally’s supplier — for P18 apiece last year.
Tigerphil sold these masks at P23.90 each to Pharmally, which delivered the items as part of its first contract with the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management in March 2020.
According to committee director-general Rudy Quimbo, the subpoenas issued against the Greentrend officials were not served due to “fictitious” addresses.
Gordon requested that an arrest order be issued against them to compel them to attend the next hearing on Sept. 30.
Senators are investigating the government’s transactions with Pharmally, which was awarded over P8.6 billion worth of supply contracts for medical supplies in 2020 despite being only several months old and having just P625,000 in paid-up capital.
Pharmally chairman and president Huang Tzu Yen has previously denied that they were favored in any way in the government’s procurement of medical supplies in 2020, saying the firm has been “unfairly prejudged.”
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