Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday,Sept. 29 slammed the lawyer of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation director Linconn Ong for accusing her of bribing the company’s former warehouse staff who testified on the alleged substandard face shields the firm delivered to the government.
Hontiveros, who presented the witness during the Sept. 24 hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said it was the witness who reached out to her office.
The witness testified how Pharmally has been delivering “substandard” face shields to the Department of Health (DOH), telling Senate probers they were told to repack soiled and dirty face shields that are already turning yellow and then attaching a “Philippine Government Property” on the finished goods.
Confronted by the testimony, Krizle Grace Mago, another Pharmally official, eventually admitted to tampering the manufacturing dates of the face shields from 2020 to 2021. According to Mago, the instruction came from another Pharmally official, Mohit Dargani.
Mago has been “incommunicado” since her testimony last Friday.
“First, it was the witness who reached out to us. We have an e-mail thread to prove this. Like always, may resibo ako (I have the receipts),” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“We vetted the information of the witness for weeks and obtained independent corroboration of his points,” the senator stressed.
In a Facebook video, Ferdinand Topacio, who serves as legal counsel for Ong, who is currently detained at the Senate after being cited for contempt, accused the office of Hontiveros of bribing the warehouse staff.
According to Topacio, another warehouse staff claimed that one of the senator’s staff members bribed his former co-worker to testify against Pharmally.
But Hontiveros said Mago herself, admitted that she believes their company was swindling the government.
“That is unrehearsed testimony. It is on the record. Kaya huwag na silang magtangkang ilihis pa ang usapan (That’s why they shouldn’t try to divert the issue),” she said.
Hontiveros also said her office never had any track record of “witness tampering and witness bribery.”
In contrast, Topacio, she said, had never been on the side of truth and justice, citing the case of the minors who testified to the killing of Kian Delos Santos in 2017.
At that time, she said Topacio tried to retrieve the children out of her office to stop them from testifying at the Senate but he failed.
“Atty. Topacio, hindi mo maiisahan ang taumbayan. Not today. Tulad ng mga face shields na ipinasok ng Pharmally, luma, nangingitim at expired na ang script mo ( you cannot fool the people. Not today. Like the face shields that Pharmally delivered, your script is already old, dirty and expired),” she said.
“Hindi ko uurungan ang anumang kasong isasampa laban sa akin. Handa kaming harapin, sagutin at patunayan na hindi namin kailangang magbayad para sa katotohanan (I won’t back down from any case they plan to file against me. We are ready to face, and answer and prove without having to pay anything just for the truth to come out),” the lawmaker stressed.