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Economy

Pharmally officials freed after almost 7 months in jail

TWO officials of a company that allegedly sold overpriced medical supplies to the government were released from the Pasay City jail on Thursday after almost seven months.

The Senate sergeant-at-arms released Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. Director Linconn Ong and Corporate Secretary Mohit Dargani after Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III signed their release order on Wednesday evening, when Congress adjourned sine die, the Senate said in a statement.

At a hearing last year, the Senate blue ribbon committee asked the officias to submit documents on Pharmally’s dealings with the Budget department’s procurement service. They were cited in contempt and sent to jail after failing to produce the files.

“They have no one but themselves to blame for their continuing detention in the same manner that only their action, their compliance with just directives can pave the way for their release,” Senator Richard J. Gordon, Sr., who heads the committee, said earlier.  

Mr. Gordon has presented a draft report on the body’s findings after its probe of multibillion coronavirus pandemic contracts. Only nine senators have signed the committee report, short of the 11 needed for it to be discussed in plenary.

“There is so much ballyhoo,” Mr. Gordon said in a statement. “Why create a blue ribbon committee if the Senate members will not vote?”

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri and Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian have said they would only sign the committee report if allegations against outgoing President Rodrigo R. Duterte were removed.

Mr. Gordon’s committee in a 113-page report said Mr. Duterte could be held accountable for siding with people involved in the deals.

It also endorsed charges against Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, Budget Director Warren Rex Liong, former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, former Duterte economic adviser Michael Yang and several Pharmally officials.

Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel has said she would seek a reinvestigation in the next Congress if the report is not discussed in plenary. The body held 18 hearings over seven months. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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