Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. officials Mohit Dargani and Linconn Ong were released from the Pasay City Jail on Thursday morning after six months in detention on the Senate’s orders.
Outgoing Senate President Vicente Sotto III signed their release order, which was handed to Pasay City Jail Warden Supt. Ramil Vestra, for “immediate implementation.”
The two Pharmally officials have been detained at the Pasay City Jail since November last year for failing to produce the firm’s financial documents earlier subpoenaed by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee led by Sen. Richard Gordon.
Before being transferred to the PCJ, Ong had been under Senate custody since September 21, 2021.
He was cited in contempt for repeatedly being “evasive” and “lying under oath” in a probe about their company’s involvement in the multibillion-peso purchase of COVID-19 supplies for the government.
On the other hand, Dargani was arrested on November 14, 2021, as he attempted to leave the country via a chartered plane at the Davao City International Airport.
Gordon’s panel investigated Pharmally over alleged irregularities in government transactions worth billions of pesos for COVID-19 response medical supplies.
It was discovered that P42 billion in COVID-19 funds were transferred from the Department of Health to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).
This included PS-DBM’s purchase of P8.6 billion worth of face masks, face shields, and PPEs from Pharmally.
Records show Pharmally was registered in September 2019 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with a paid-up capital of only P625,000.
Based on the firm’s 2020 financial statement submitted to the SEC, its income stood at P285 million from zero in 2019. Its assets also jumped to P285 million in 2020 from P599,000 the previous year.
Ferdinand Topacio, the legal counsel of the two Pharmally executives, thanked all those who have made their release yesterday possible.
“They wish to thank all those who have kept the faith and for helping them weather the storm and the deluge of negativity stemming from their unjust incarceration,” he said on behalf of his clients.
Topacio reiterated that the Pharmally officials “only tried to do their civic duty” by appearing before the Senate hearing but “they were the ones silenced, punished, and used for a different agenda.”
“As they both try to reclaim their lives and make up for time lost, they wish to say that their ordeal did not in any way diminish their resolve to continue doing business and to be of help to the Filipino people, to send the clear message to the business community that whatever happens, as businessmen, they all have a role to play, no matter the cost to themselves, to be partners in economic recovery,” he added.
Topacio said Dargani and Ong are eager to go home to their families and go on with their lives.
The lawyer also lashed at Senator Risa Hontiveros after saying she would file a resolution in the next Congress for another probe on Pharmally.
“I think Miss Risa Hontiveros is just grandstanding, being the lone survivor of the decimation of the opposition (in the May 9 elections). Nagpapa-bibo lang po yan. Nagpapa-ingay lang po yan si Miss Risa Hontiveros (She’s just making a scene, making noise),” he said.
Hontiveros has yet to react to the statement as of press time.