STATEMENT OF SENATOR RICHARD J. GORDON ON MRS. SUMMER ONG’S PLEA TO RELEASE HUSBAND FROM DETENTION
On 14 February 2022, Mrs. Summer Ong, wife to Linconn Ong who is currently detained at the Pasay City jail for contempt of the Senate, wrote to the Committee reporting that their child is confined to hospital due to a dengue infection and sought her husband’s release.
I wrote to the members of the Committee and to the Senate President seeking their inputs and advice in the matter. At the same time, I wrote to Mrs. Ong to commiserate with her at this difficult time. I also offered the assistance of the Philippine Red Cross in the event that a blood transfusion is needed as part of the treatment of the child.
The Blue Ribbon Committee is not without compassion. For humanitarian reasons, but without wavering on or compromising our position regarding his contempt of the Senate, I, as Chairman of the Committee, will allow Mr. Ong fully escorted visits to his son in hospital for a limited time per day on dates to be set by the Committee, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, and authorities of the Pasay City Jail. Each visit shall be jointly supervised by the said authorities.
Yesterday, a Motion for the release or for house arrest was filed by Mr. Ong’s lawyer. There has also been a massive social media campaign to paint the Committee and myself as its Chairman as heartless and insensitive.
Let us be clear here: Linconn Ong is held in contempt of the Senate and continues to be detained because of his failure to purge himself of his defiant conduct. He has been evasive in answering questions, and he misled and lied to the Committee regarding his participation in the biggest injustice to the Filipino people during the time of the pandemic when so many were, and still are, suffering. He was part of a grossly underfunded corporation that was able to enter into supply contracts with PS-DMB, not only in the millions, but in the billions of pesos for overpriced protective supplies and equipment.
During the time that their transactions were happening, Mr. Ong was able to purchase cars for himself - two Porsches and a Lexus, both worth millions of pesos despite a salary of only P80,000 a month. All this in the face of the suffering of our people.
Mr. Ong’s continuing detention is a matter that can really only be determined by his acts: will he continue to be evasive or will he not; will he tell the truth finally or will he not; will he purge himself of his contumacious acts or will he not?
The contempt powers of the Senate are exercised sparingly and deliberately. We impose it only upon those who actively set up obstacles in our investigations through lies, evasiveness, and other dishonest means.
We, as senators, should be firm in our resolve to protect and defend not only our duties to investigate, but also against individuals who attempt to make a mockery of our mandated processes. To fully release Mr. Ong at this time, in spite of his lies and contumacy, is to render the Senate powerless to protect itself and the nation. If we are to abide by our sworn duty to protect and defend the Filipino people, there can be no room to be soft on crime and to succumb to political pressure.