Senate panel allows Ong to see hospitalized son through 'fully escorted' visits | Inquirer News
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Senate panel allows Ong to see hospitalized son through ‘fully escorted’ visits

/ 07:43 PM February 18, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon has allowed detained Pharmally director Linconn Ong to see his hospitalized son through “fully escorted” visits.

“The Blue Ribbon Committee is not without compassion. For humanitarian reasons, but without wavering on or compromising our position regarding his contempt of the Senate, I, as Chairman of the Committee, will allow Mr. Ong fully escorted visits to his son in hospital for a limited time per day,” Gordon said in a statement on Friday.

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The dates of Ong’s visit to his son will be set by the Senate panel, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, and Pasay City Jail authorities, according to the senator.

“Each visit shall be jointly supervised by the said authorities,” he added.

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Earlier, Ong’s wife appealed to Gordon’s committee that his husband be released to attend to their son who is currently in a hospital due to a dengue infection.

READ: Linconn Ong’s wife’s plea to Senate: Please free my husband

Gordon said he already wrote to the members of the committee as well as Senate President Vicente Sotto III for their input and advice on the matter.

“At the same time, I wrote to Mrs. Ong to commiserate with her at this difficult time,” Gordon added.

He also said he offered the assistance of the Philippine Red Cross, which he chairs, in case a blood transfusion is needed as part of the treatment of Ong’s son.

Gordon, meanwhile, mentioned that Ong’s lawyer has filed a motion for the Pharmally director’s release or for him to be put on house arrest.

“There has also been a massive social media campaign to paint the Committee and myself as its Chairman as heartless and insensitive,” the senator added.

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Ong is currently detained at the Pasay City Jail for failing to produce Pharmally’s financial documents that were subpoenaed during the Senate investigation on the alleged irregularities in the government’s pandemic supply deals with the firm.

“Let us be clear here: Linconn Ong is held in contempt of the Senate and continues to be detained because of his failure to purge himself of his defiant conduct,” Gordon went on.

The senator said Ong has been “evasive in answering questions” during the Senate inquiry.

“[H]e misled and lied to the Committee regarding his participation in the biggest injustice to the Filipino people during the time of the pandemic when so many were, and still are, suffering,” Gordon said.

“Mr. Ong’s continuing detention is a matter that can really only be determined by his acts: will he continue to be evasive or will he not; will he tell the truth finally or will he not; will he purge himself of his contumacious acts or will he not?” he added.

Gordon meanwhile stressed that the Senate’s contempt “are exercised sparingly and deliberately.”

The upper chamber, he said, imposes this “only upon those who actively set up obstacles in our investigations through lies, evasiveness, and other dishonest means.”

“We, as senators, should be firm in our resolve to protect and defend not only our duties to investigate, but also against individuals who attempt to make a mockery of our mandated processes,” Gordon added.

The senator further said that fully releasing Ong at this time despite his actions equates to rendering the Senate “powerless to protect itself and the nation.”

“If we are to abide by our sworn duty to protect and defend the Filipino people, there can be no room to be soft on crime and to succumb to political pressure,” Gordon added.

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