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Senators want detained Pharmally exec transferred to New Bilibid Prison

Irked by Linconn Ong's continued evasiveness, senators on Friday pushed to transfer the detention of the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation director to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

Ong, who is currently detained at the Senate building, refused to disclose the amount of money that former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang lent to Pharmally in order to supply bulks of pandemic-related medical goods to the government in 2020.

“Mr. chairman perhaps we should have him transferred to the New Bilibid Prison. Perhaps there he would have the chance to reflect more on his answers kasi paiba-iba eh,” Senator Francis Pangilinan said.

The senator pointed out that Ong has invoked the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that Pharmally signed with Yang but eventually, Ong told the panel that he could no longer recall the amount that the latter had lent the firm.

“Mr. Linconn Ong, I’m sorry, but clearly you are being evasive,” Pangilinan said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon seconded Pangilinan’s motion and underscored that Ong’s refusal to answer the questions was “borderline perjury.”

“I join the motion of Senator Pangilinan, I second the motion to move Mr. Ong to the NBP, in view of his refusal to answer, bordering on perjury on a legitimate question, on a valid questions that we raised,” Drilon.

Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon was about to approve the motion but he has given Ong a chance to cooperate and answer the questions.

Ong, who turned emotional while responding, maintained that he is cooperating in the investigation.

“Mr. chairman, thank you po pero nagko-cooperate naman po ako e. Bakit po ako?” Ong said.

Drilon then asked Ong if he wanted to go into an executive session to disclose all of his knowledge related to the Pharmally’s transactions.

However, Ong said he is not aware of the implications of the the executive session.

Drilon likewise offered Ong the legislative witness protection program, depending on the testimonies that he will provide the committee.

“If he tells us the truth and we are convinced that he is telling us the truth, we can have him, we can recommend him for admission to the witness protection program so that his testimonies cannot be used against him. But at the rate that he is going, he is giving us no choice but to put him somewhere else rather than the Senate premises,” Drilon said.

Eventually, the Senate blue ribbon panel allowed Ong to consult his legal counsel before deciding whether to avail of the executive session or not.

“I didn’t want you to go to jail but if you persist on this attitude, then I will have no recourse but to either put you in Bilibid or in the City of Pasay Jail which is nearer to the Senate,” Gordon said.

“I must warn you, we’re trying to bend over backwards for you. You are just the patsy, the goffer, ginamit ka, bakit di ka tumulong? Kumampi ka sa Pilipinas di yan sa mga yan,” he added.

Pangilinan also asked the Pharmally official if he is afraid to tell the truth because his life was threatened.

In response, Ong admitted that “there’s a lot going on” in his mind.