Members of the Office of the Sergeant-At-Arms escort Linconn Ong, a director of Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp. in the Senate building Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. The blue ribbon committed has cited him for contempt and ordered him detained for evading questions during the Sept. 10, inquiry. (File photo from the Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau)
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte tagged on Monday as "more than martial law" the order of the Senate to detain Linconn Ong, a director of Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., for being evasive in his answers during hearings on alleged anomalies in the company's supply contracts with the government.
"Every time you have a question, and you have a preconceived notion of what is the correct answer, you get mad and threaten them with imprisonment," Duterte said, referring to the senators, during his taped weekly briefing.
"I thought the people in the Philippines don't like martial law," he added in Filipino. "Now look at what the Senate has done. It is just more than martial law," he added.
"Martial law is better because you're taken to a military court. At least, there is a court hearing, and the person accused is afforded the right to be heard," he continued.
Duterte issued the remarks after the Senate ordered the detention of Pharmally director Linconn Ong.
He also wondered about what human rights advocates thought of the Pharmally executive's detention.
"I want to hear what the human rights [advocates] will say. The Constitution really provides that no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law," the president said.
"Is there a due process of law if you already have a preconceived answer, and if it does not have dovetail [with] your frame of mind, you send him to jail?" he added.
Last week, the Senate blue ribbon committee leading the Pharmally probe ordered Ong's detention for allegedly evading questions on the P8-billion worth of transactions between the government and his firm.
"Is that how a civilized Congress works?" Duterte said. "If the person's answer does not agree with what you think is the truth, do not blame him — because that is his truth. You cannot just assume altogether that he is lying."
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