Pharmally exec skips Senate hearing, ‘still missing’ after testimony on face shields

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Pharmally exec skips Senate hearing, âstill missingâ after testimony on face shields
Pharmally executive Krizle Grace Mago attends a Senate blue ribbon committee on Sept. 24, 2021.
Screen grab / Senate of the Philippines YouTube page

MANILA, Philippines — A Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. executive who made a stunning admission about selling the government substandard face shields with doctored expiry dates failed to attend a Senate panel's hearing Thursday, heightening lawmakers' fears for her safety. 

Krizle Grace Mago has been unreachable since the evening of September 24 after saying she would think over the Senate's offer of protective custody, according to Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon. 

"She is still missing," Rodolfo Quimbo, director-general of Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management, concluded after noting her absence on Thursday came without prior warning or explanation to the committee. 

Mago's boss, Pharmally corporate secretary and treasurer Mohit Dargani, also said he was not aware of her whereabouts. He said the last time he spoke to her was on September 25, Saturday, a day after she last appeared before the Blue Ribbon panel.  

"If she is not present, that is very concerning, and I emphasize the importance of protective custody that the Senate has offered," Sen. Risa Hontiveros said partially in Filipino.  

The panel decided to issue a fresh subpoena for Mago to attend. It is unclear though how they will serve the subpoena as they cannot find her.

Sen. Gordon earlier told reporters that his office has sought help from both the National Bureau of Investigation and her alma matter, St. Paul University, to try and locate her. 

He also said he received word but was unable to confirm, that she was in a warehouse with bodyguards. 

It was Mago who corroborated a Senate witness' testimony that the firm tampered with the expiration dates of medical-grade face shields. The same witness, a Pharmally warehouseman, said he and other workers were told to repackage face shields even when they were dented, yellowed, and dirtied. 

Asked by Sen. Richard Gordon, committee chair, if the firm was swindling the government by doing this, Mago replied: "Yes, I believe so." 

She and Dargani soon after disagreed on who the order to repackage face shields came from.

Dargani claimed he never gave such an order but Mago, who said he did, countered that she would not have relayed the instruction to warehouse workers if there was no directive to do so from a higher-up. 

Pharmally director tries to beg off hearings 

Meanwhile, Pharmally director Linconn Ong's lawyer wrote the Blue Ribbon earlier Thursday asking that he be excused from further hearings on the firm's deals with the Department of Budget and Management's procurement service. 

But Ong, who has been detained on contempt charges, still attended the hearing and fielded questions from senators. 

Office of Sen. Richard Gordon 

A video released by Senate staff to several media outlets shows Ong voluntarily going with Senate security to attend the hearing despite claims from his lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, that he was "physically forced to attend." 

At the hearing, Ong again earned senators' ire by refusing to tell them how much money former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang lent Pharmally, citing a supposed non-disclosure agreement that he signed. 

He also invoked his right against self-incrimination. 

Asked by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon if this NDA was even notarized, he said: "I don't think so." He also claimed not to remember when he signed the NDA. 

"Your refusal to answer even a question on when you signed the NDA or how much Michael Yang assisted you financially...That is really a classic example of the need of this committee to exercise its power to detain you until you answer our questions," Drilon said. 

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