MANILA— Officers of the controversial Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp currently held at the Pasay City Jail for supposedly refusing to hand over key financial documents in the Senate probe deserve to be in jail, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Tuesday.
Lacson, a presidential candidate, said he found the information given by Pharmally executives Linconn Ong and Mohit Dargani lacking, raising the question if they are “protecting some people.”
Dargani last week revealed that the financial documents that the lawmakers are seeking are "in boxes" and could be in their office. He noted that the boxes could possibly be in a warehouse amid the expiry of their office lease.
Senators ordered that the two be transferred to the Pasay City Jail from their holding room at the Senate building for evasiveness to answer the question.
"E ‘di stalemate ‘yon. Hindi sila aalis ng Pasay City jail pagka ganoon. Kung makikipag-matigasan sila, mas matigas naman siguro 'yung Senado kaysa sa kanila. So, all we need is their cooperation," said Lacson.
(They would not get out of Pasay City Jail if they are like that. If they keep on being tough, then the Senate would be tougher. We all need their cooperation.)
The lawmaker also reiterated why Pharmally's resigned officer Krizle Mago had to backtrack from her statements and say she was supposedly pressured by senators for a response even if she gave up information voluntarily.
Mago earlier said she was intimidated by Lacson's line of questioning.
"Tell the truth, especially si Ms. Mago, ‘di ba? Sinasabi niya na na-pressure. Pero, ‘di ba, ipinakita ko naman ‘yung video footage, ako mismo ‘yung nag-interpellate, wala man lang maski akong indikasyon na na-pre-pressure siya sa mga sagot niya. In fact, unaided ‘yung kanyang sagot," he added.
(She said there is pressure but when you watch the video footage of me interpellating, there is no indication that she was being pressured. Her answers were unaided.)
“Ako mismo, I never had any idea kung sino ‘yung nag-uutos sa kanya na mag-replace ng stickers para palitan ‘yung expiry dates. Sa kanya nanggaling mismo. So, doon mo makikita for whatever reason kung bakit nag-cla-clam up sila pare-pareho."
(I never had the idea of who ordered her to replace the stickers of the face shields. It came from her. From that alone, you will see whatever reason why they are clamming up.)
This is the reason why Lacson alleged that they could be covering up for someone.
"Hindi natin alam kung sino ‘yung talagang behind them. Bakit ganyan sila katakot na sinasakripisyo nila ‘yung sarili nila? Are they protecting some people? I hope not. Pero ang mga indications parang kulang talaga ‘yung information na ibinabahagi nila. And I think they deserve to be in Pasay City jail kung ganyan ‘yung attitude nila,” Lacson said.
(We don't know who is behind them. Why are they afraid? Why do they keep on sacrificing themselves? There are indications that the information they share are lacking.)
Asked until when they can be detained, Lacson cited new jurisprudence that say they could stay there while the committee report on the investigation has not been adopted by lawmakers.
“Hindi na tulad ‘nung dati noon na forever pwedeng i-detain. So, ang tanong kung hanggang kailan? Hanggang sa ma-adopt na namin ‘yung Committee Report na isusumite ni Chairman Gordon,” he said.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is investigating Pharmally after records showed that the PS-DBM awarded billions of pesos worth of government contracts to the company that only had less than a million pesos in paid-up capital.
Some senators earlier said the PS-DBM bought allegedly overpriced face masks and RT-PCR test kits from the company, whose executives are accused of fraudulent schemes in Taiwan, instead of procuring from local suppliers that were selling cheaper items.
The panel has so far recommended the filing of various charges against Pharmally's officers, Chinese businessman and former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang, and former budget official Christopher Lloyd Lao, among others, due to the allegedly anomalous transactions.
— Report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News