Gordon: Pharmally officials will spend holidays in detention

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2021 12:53 AM

Mohit Dargani and Linconn Ong Senate PRIB handout
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology officers from the Pasay City Jail escort Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. executives Mohit Dargani and Linconn Ong to the committee room upon arriving at the Senate. December 3, 2021. Senate PRIB handout

MANILA - The officers of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. may celebrate the holidays in detention, as they can be detained until next year, Senate Blue Ribbon Chairman Richard Gordon said on Friday. 

In his opening statement, Gordon said Pharmally executives Mohit Dargani, his sister Twinkle, and Linconn Ong may stay in detention until "June 29 or 30" next year. 

"Mayroon tayong mga paraaang ginagawa ngayon para lumabas lahat yan. Kung akala nila Dargani na sufficient na silang magtago ati pinagmamalaki pa nila na hindi na sila sisipot, ang kanilang abugado, panay ang press release nila," Gordon added. 

"Talagang aabutin kayo hanggang matapos ang buhay nitong Congress na ito hanggang June 29 or 30 of next year. You will not get anymore free passes from us at the rate you are going." 

The marathon hearings, which concluded its 16th session earlier in the day, have been met with President Rodrigo Duterte's repeated tirades against Gordon and other members of the investigative panel. 

Duterte also banned Cabinet officials in October from attending the Senate probe, a reason why key government officials from the Department of Health, Department of Budget and Management, among other agencies, have been absent. 

Gordon said they would continue the hearings. 

"Kung walang inquiry, hindi natin malalaman ang kulang sa batas at yan ay kailangan nating malaman yan. Pasulong po tayo dun sa tinatawag natin inherent power of contempt is of utmost importance, kailangan makapag-legislate tayo ng matino, wisely," he said. 

"Dahil sa panghaharang ito ng mga ito, talagang mahihirapan ang Senado... Andiyan pa naman ang BIR," he said. 

Mohit and Ong are in quarantine in the Pasay City Jail after their supposed evasiveness and failure to submit crucial documents to senators. 

Twinkle, meanwhile, is in the Senate compound in Pasay City after reports that the probe is taking a toll on her mental health. 

Her brother earlier said their failed escape in Davao City last November was for their mental health.

Duterte has expressed his disapproval of the Senate's marathon hearings regarding pandemic deals, lamenting the way lawmakers treat resource speakers, including government officials handling the country's coronavirus response.

The Senate panel is investigating Pharmally after records showed that the budget department's procurement service awarded billions of pesos worth of government contracts to the company that only had less than a million pesos in paid-up capital.

The government denies there was overpricing and said the deals were above board.

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 Undersecretary Christopher Lao, among others, due to the allegedly anomalous transactions. 

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