Pharmally executive Linconn Ong has backed out of an earlier plan to speak before an executive session of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

Ong wrote the Blue Ribbon on Monday [Sept 27] to say he was advised against speaking in an executive session.

“I regret to inform you that, acting upon advice of counsel, I am declining your invitation for me to participate in the executive session regarding the matter under investigation,” Ong wrote.

Ong has been in Senate custody since being cited in contempt for evasiveness in answering questions on over P8-B PPE supply contracts won by Pharmally, a low-capital startup.Ong averted being transferred to Pasay City Jail at the last hearing (Sept 24) after saying he would consider speaking in an executive session.

Earlier, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Ong had sought permission to leave the Senate premises and go home to retrieve certain Pharmally documents, but was not granted permission. Lacson added that senators are aware Ong already has in his possession a USB containing all key information and documents on Pharmally.

Ong was first cited in contempt for refusing to provide further details of how newly incorporated Pharmally, which is not a manufacturer and is just a middleman with only P625,000 paid-up capital, secured the financing needed to deliver on its commitments to supply various PPE items, as well as Covid-19 test kits, to the DOH through PS-DBM. 

In all, estimates of the total contracts bagged by Pharmally from PS-DBM was first estimated  at over P8 billion, but later adjusted by some senators to P12 billion as they turned up more documents.

Ong only acknowledged later that Pharmally borrowed funds from former Duterte economic adviser Michael Yang, a Davao-based Chinese businessman, but declined to provide further details.

At the Blue Ribbon’s ninth hearing on Sept. 24, Yang refused to provide details of the origins of his wealth despite prodding by Blue Ribbon chairman Sen. Richard Gordon.

Ong is among Pharmally executives whom Gordon tagged as having bought multimillion-peso luxury cars, an indication, the senator said, that they rushed to enjoy the fruits of their controversial supply contracts at a time when government was scouring for funds for pandemic response.

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