MANILA - Pharmally executive Linconn Ong did not ask for an executive session, nor will he speak in the said exclusive venue with members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, his legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio said Monday.
Topacio told ABS-CBN News that reports about his client asking for an executive session "is not accurate."
"He’s (Ong) being pressured to testify in an executive session. In that way, I will come and see... si Director (Rudy) Quimbo who is the secretary-general of the Blue Ribbon Committee, to convey to him 'yung aming sagot sa gusto nilang mangyari na executive session," Topacio said.
"Hindi po totoo yung sinasabi ng iba na Mr. Ong will turn state witness," he added.
Hours before Topacio’s visit to Ong, Lacson confirmed the Pharmally executive’s request to speak before the committee in an executive session, prompting the senators to temporarily halt his transfer to the jail.
"Nakiusap siyang kunin ang kaniyang mga dokumeto para accurate daw ang mga numero na sasabihin niya, like kung magkano ang in-advance na pera ni Michael Yang at kung magkano ang ibinalik niya sa bawat transaction ng Pharmally sa PS-DBM," Lacson said in a text message.
Asked for his reaction to Topacio’s claim, Lacson said, "It’s on the record during last Friday’s hearing that Ong asked for an executive session, so I don’t understand what Atty. Topacio was imagining when he negated Ong’s statement."
Topacio said Ong is "worried about everything" and "scared."
"He doesn’t know what is happening," the lawyer said of the Pharmally executive.
Topacio, who was at the Senate while being interviewed by ABS-CBN News over the phone, was overheard talking to Senate security personnel, insisting to see his client who is currently under detention at the complex.
He could be heard asking to be allowed to personally speak with Quimbo.
The lawyer said all questions for Ong should be coursed through him “from now on,” pointing out that “a lot of disinformation about Mr. Ong” must be corrected.
He mentioned Lacson and Senator Risa Hontiveros as among lawmakers who he said are wanting “blood.”
The blue ribbon committee, he said, did not allow Ong to have the assistance of a legal counsel all throughout the proceedings, adding the senators are abusing their contempt powers.
Topacio said they are now “reconsidering” his client’s earlier stand to continuously cooperate with the Senate which he calls a “kangaroo forum”.
“We are reconsidering that... because this is not a fair forum. This is a kangaroo forum. The blue ribbon, not all ha? Some members of the blue ribbon committee are not out to get the truth. They’re out for blood. Kaya naman unfair sa kliyente ko kung siya ang gagawing pawn, gagawing sacrificial lamb para makakuha ng dugo,” Topacio said.
Ong was supposed to be transferred to the Pasay City Jail last week after being cited in contempt for his flip-flopping answers regarding the government’s dealings with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.
Topacio has vowed to question Ong’s would-be transfer to the Pasay City Jail, saying his client’s rights were violated.
"We will leave no legal remedies unavailed of, in order to protect the rights of my client. Ang Senado is not above the law. It is not immune to legal processes. It is not immune to criminal cases. The senators themselves have no immunity in case sila ay lalabag sa batas. Hindi sila immune sa batas," Topacio said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that he will let Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, reply to Topacio’s allegations.
"He (Topacio) can do his worst. I will do my best to seek the truth in the proceedings," Drilon said.
In the meantime, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III has a piece of advice to Topacio: "He should read the journal of the committee before issuing threats."
Topacio will convey to the committee whether or not his client will continue to participate in the proceedings on September 30.
Pharmally's transaction with the government was investigated after bagging billions of pesos worth of anti-pandemic supplies deal beginning last year despite only 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.