MANILA - Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon on Monday shrugged off lawyer Ferdinand Topacio's threat to file cases against senators who were allegedly violating the rights of his client Linconn Ong.
"'Yung mga walang ibubuga, nananakot," Gordon said in an online press conference.
(People who cannot present anything with substance resort to issuing threats.)
"Bahala ka anong gagawin mo. Do your worst. It's a free country," he added, addressing Topacio, the legal counsel of the Pharmally director cited in contempt by the Senate.
(You can do whatever you want.)
Topacio earlier in the day said that their camp would "leave no legal remedies unavailed of in order to protect the rights" of his client.
Gordon noted that Topacio had also represented other individuals who were being investigated in the Senate for their alleged involvement in various scams.
These include people purportedly involved in the fertilizer fund scam and several under money laundering scam cases investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
"Lahat ng scam halos, dumadating siya," the senator said.
(He shows up almost every time a scam is being probed.)
"Nakikiusap pa siya na i-appoint ang kaniyang asawa sa Court of Appeals. 'Yan ang pagkatao niya. He will use anything and everything to try to get a purchase on anything," Gordon said of Topacio.
(He is requesting that her wife be appointed to the Court of Appeals. That's his character.)
Gordon clarified that he does not have a personal quarrel with Topacio, but added that he would not allow the lawyer to keep on alleging that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is a "kangaroo court."
"Kapag babastusin niya ang Blue Ribbon, ibang usapan 'yun kaya nakapagsalita ako ng maanghang kanina," said Gordon.
(If he disrespects the Blue Ribbon, that's another matter that's why I spoke harshly against him earlier.)
After initially telling the Committee that he would cooperate with investigators, Ong submitted a hand written note, saying he would no longer participate in an executive session after he was advised by Topacio.
"Acting upon the advise of counsel, I'm declining your kind invitation for me to participate in the executive session regarding the matter under investigation," Ong's letter read.
Gordon said the Senate panel does not need Ong for the chamber to prove that Pharmally violated several procurement laws in its deals with the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service. (PS-DBM).
"I don't need you, Mr. Ong. You're gonna need help," he said.
Pharmally's transaction with the government was investigated after bagging billions of pesos worth of anti-pandemic supplies deal beginning last year despite having a paid-up capital of only P625,000.
Senators alleged that Pharmally offered overpriced supplies and suspect that it was favored by government because of its ties with businessman Michael Yang, President Rodrigo Duterte's former economic adviser. The Duterte administration maintained that the deals were above board.
Gordon had said that public funds supposedly wasted on anomalous transactions could have been used for benefits of health workers who have been fighting COVID-19 in the frontlines.