Pharmally exec detained at home, cites bout with COVID-19

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The Senate has cited Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. Director Linconn Ong in contempt and ordered his immediate arrest and detention due to evasiveness in answering questions on the company's procurement deal with the government for COVID-19 supplies. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) — The Senate has cited Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. Director Linconn Ong in contempt and ordered his immediate arrest and detention due to evasiveness in answering questions on the company's procurement deal with the government for COVID-19 supplies.

"We cite Pharmally Dir. Linconn Ong in contempt and order his arrest now," said Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Richard Gordon in a tweet. "He has been very evasive, hindi sinasagot nang direkta ang mga tanong sa kanya, at paiba-iba ang sagot [He is not answering questions directly and he keeps changing his answers]."

However, the committee allowed Ong to remain in his home while being guarded by security personnel, since he is currently battling COVID-19.

In a hearing on Friday, Ong was asked how Pharmally was able to pay for millions of protective personal equipment for the country.

The Pharmally official said the company paid in a series of bank transactions. When asked who owned the bank accounts, Ong said it was the corporation's. However, senators pointed out that Pharmally's capital was only ₱625,000 while the company's first transaction was ₱54 million.

"Talagang nagsisinungaling 'to [He's really lying]," said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

Pharmally Chairman Huang Tzu Yen also earlier said the company was only able to open a letter of credit with Union Bank in November 2020, seven months after the procurement began in April.

Michael Yang

Huang also tried to defend his colleague, by admitting that Pharmally had borrowed money from former presidential adviser and Chinese businessman Michael Yang.

"I just wish to state on record that we did receive Mr. Michael Yang's help...we borrowed money from him," said Huang. "I think Ong was hesitant in saying that because of courtesy...perhaps this is what caused him to be evasive."

"And since the money was borrowed...therefore his (Ong's) statement that it came from a corporate account was correct and factual," he added.

Following Huang, Ong also admitted that Yang helped the company pay for the supplies.

"So at the time the contract was awarded to you, you had no financing whatsoever," Drilon pressed Pharmally. "When you were negotiating for the contract, you had no funds to buy the supplies?"

Huang answered affirmatively, admitting that Pharmally's funds were insufficient at the time it bagged the procurement deal.

Earlier, Ong said Yang also assisted Pharmally in securing suppliers by guaranteeing them that they will be paid after Pharmally receives payment from the government for the supply deliveries.

In the same hearing, Yang maintained he had no participation in the negotiations for the procurement other than introducing Pharmally to Chinese suppliers. Huang's revelation convinced senators that Yang was lying under oath.