Pharmally execs Ong, Dargani transferred to Pasay City Jail

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 29) — Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. executives Linconn Ong and Mohit Dargani were transferred to Pasay City Jail on Monday after being detained in the Senate.

Prior their transfer, they both tested negative for COVID-19, according to the Senate Medical and Dental Bureau.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Friday adopted a motion on the transfer of Ong and Dargani to Pasay City Jail for failing to submit documents asked of them. 

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on Monday morning assured that no special treatment nor preferential attention would be provided to Ong and Dargani, adding all persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) are treated equally.

The agency also said Pasay City Jail, which has a 1000% congestion rate and houses over 1,100 PDLs, does not have a separate facility except for its isolation area intended for new inmates.

“After the mandatory quarantine period of 10-14 days, the subject individuals will be assigned to a cell in the general population,” said BJMP spokesperson Xavier Solda.

Committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said the Senate decided to transfer Ong and Dargani to preserve and protect the institution.

“Mr. Dargani’s and Mr. Linconn’s continuous lying, continuous refusal to answer questions truthfully and forthrightly, and the constant ‘palusot’ (excuses) have crossed the line,” said Gordon.

The Pharmally officials’ continuing presence in the Senate’s premises also “had put a strain to an overstretched” Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms, he added.

Atty. Don Kapunan, Dargani and Ong’s legal counsel, said his clients’ transfer to Pasay City Jail is an “arm-twisting tactic,” adding that they told him they will no longer participate in the probe.

“They have come to that point already na wala na, nothing to lose na sila eh [they have nothing to lose]. Kumbaga this is the worst that could possibly happen to them,” he added.

Kapunan further said it was a “conscious, deliberate and purposeful decision” on the Pharmally officials’ end not to provide the documents sought by senators, saying they have a pending petition before the courts on the matter.

“We are questioning also the acts of the Blue Ribbon in doing this investigation considering that the corporation, Pharmally, already has a tax investigation going on. The BIR, I believe, has already issued a letter of authority to my client,” said the lawyer. 

RELATED: Senator: Pharmally did not pay taxes last year, Yang only paid ₱7,600 tax for ₱208,000 income in 2018

With this, they find the Senate inquiry now focusing on the firm’s supposed tax evasion “duplicitous,” said Kapunan.

Pharmally is at the center of the panel’s probe into the management of COVID-19 response funds after being found to have bagged billions of pesos in contracts despite having relatively little capital.

Senators also questioned the alleged overpriced medical supplies that Pharmally sold to the state and its non-payment of taxes last year.

“If we do not go into the bottom of this scandal, we will not be able to hold accountable those responsible, and the repetition of such a dastardly deed becomes a high probability still,” said Gordon.

CNN Philippines correspondent Eimor Santos contributed to this report.