Sotto signs commitment order transferring Pharmally execs to Pasay jail

Senate President Vicente Sotto III has signed the commitment order directing the transfer of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation officials Linconn Ong and Mohit Dargani from their detention cell at the Senate to the Pasay City Jail.

The commitment order, signed by Sotto and Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, was directed to Supt. Ramil S. Vestra, warden of the Pasay City Jail.

“The aforementioned persons are hereby ordered ketp under your custody until such time that they will properly answer questions propounded to them, submit documents required by the committee, or otherwise, purge themselves of a contempt order imposed against them on Sept. 10, 2021 and Oct. 19, 2021, respectively,” Sotto said in the commitment order.

Prior to this, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Rene Samonte recommended the immediate transfer of the Pharmally officials after they remained hesitant to disclose the whereabouts of the documents pertaining to the company’s financial statements that the Senate has subpoenaed.

According to Samonte, the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) will immediately carry out the commitment order.

“Yes, they will be subjected to medical check-up and out-processing, and some administrative process including coordination and documentation with Pasay City Jail. I expect they will be transferred around lunch time tomoorrow,” Samonte said.

Samonte had earlier informed Gordon’s office that Ong, Pharmally’s director and Dargani, the corporate secretary and treasurer, still continued to refuse to disclose the whereabouts of the documents the panel has demanded from them even after they were told they could transferred to the Pasay City Jail during the hearing on Friday, Nov. 26.

He said the two Pharmally executives refused to provide information where they can retrieve the boxes of documents saying they are not sure whether these are at their office, warehouse or residence. When told that the Senate security can go to all three places, Ong and Dargani still refused to go.

“It seems wala talagang boxes and boxes of documents, or ayaw ilabas kung meron man. I recommend ituloy na ang transfer order asap (there were no boxes or boxes of documents or they just do not want to release it. I recommend to pursue the transfer order as soon as possible). I will see and talk to them pag may commitment order na to (once there is already a commitment order to) Pasay City jail,” he said.

Gordon, for his part, warned that he will move the Pharmally officials to another detention facility if he finds out they are being treated “royally” at the Pasay City Jail.

“If you are treated royally there, we will move you to another jail,” Gordon said in an interview.

The Senate blue ribbon panel has been looking into the procurement of overpriced COVID-19 supplies made by the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS) from Pharmally at the height of the pandemic last year.

Senators have questioned the apparent favored treatment that Pharmally got from the government despite the company having only a paid-up capital of P625,000 when they were awarded the supply contract.