Richard J. Gordon

SC tells Gordon, Sotto to answer Pharmally exec’s petition

October 12, 2021 Marlon Purification 256 views

THE Senate blue ribbon committee and its chairperson Sen. Richard J. Gordon, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, and Senate sergeant-at-arms Rene C. Samonte have been required by the Supreme Court to answer the petition filed by detained Pharmally executive Linconn Ong.They were given 10 days upon receipt of the SC order to file their answers, SC Public Information Office chief Brian Keith Hosaka said in a message.

“As per Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, the respondents in the petition filed by Linconn Ong were required by the Court to file their comment to the main petition and prayer for TRO,” Hosaka said

Ong, who was ordered arrested by the powerful Senate committee for being evasive during its hearings, on Thursday petitioned the SC to declare as unconstitutional his detention, and to order his immediate release.

In a 50-page petition filed thru lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, Ong, who is currently detained at the Senate Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms, claimed that he was denied due process when the committee ordered his arrest for contempt.

Specifically, he asked the high court to nullify for being unconstitutional Section 18 of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation under Senate Resolution No. 5 as amended by Senate Resolution No. 145 that punishes for contempt the act of testifying “falsely or evasively.”

Furthermore, Ong urged the high bench to declare unconstitutional Section 6, Article 6 of the Rules of the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigation, or popularly known as the blue ribbon committee, for citing in contempt those what it perceived as testifying “falsely or evasively”.

“For a finding of guilt and the consequent imposition of a punishment for false testimony, the same being a crime defined by law, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The person charged thereof is entitled to all the rights of the accused in a criminal prosecution as provided by the Constitution, including the presumption of innocence and the right to notice and hearing, among others.”

“No tribunal except the proper courts may exercise jurisdiction, hence, try and decide the guilt or innocence of the accused under strict compliance with the Rules of Criminal Procedure and Evidence. Congress absolutely has no business in the determination of such guilt or innocence much less in the imposition of punishment,” Ong said in his petition.

The Senate committee ordered his arrest along with former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang for being “evasive” during their proceedings.

Senator Panfilo Lacson was asking the resource speakers about their involvement in the government’s controversial transaction with Pharmally — a small firm that was awarded P8billion-worth of contracts despite being months-old and having paid-up capital of P625,000 only.

Both Ong and Yang were giving different answers earning the ire of legislators.

Yang, speaking through an interpreter, denied having links with Pharmally and said that he only knew about the company on news reports.

The Senate committee has been conducting hearings on alleged irregularities surrounding COVID-19 supplies such as PPEs, face shields, and face masks.

Over the course of the probe, Yang has been revealed as the alleged financier and guarantor of the controversial Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

Pharmally was awarded over P8 billion worth of COVID-19 contracts in 2020 even if the small firm lacked the track record and credibility to engage in big ticket government procurement. In 2021, it got contracts worth P2.3 billion.

Also, Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. officer Krizle Grace Mago revealed the tampering of expiration dates of face shields delivered to the Department of Health.

Mago also believed that the company may have been swindling the government following the tampered certificates.

But Mago recently recanted her statement before the Senate that the firm had swindled the government.

Appearing before the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, Mago said she was under pressure when she made the statement in the Senate.