Senator Richard Gordon has insisted the 24-member Senate still has authority over the detention of the executives of embattled Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Inc. until the end of the 18th Congress.
Gordon on Sunday cited a ruling by the Supreme Court en banc in 1950 which did not find sound reason to limit the power of the body to impose penalties for contempt.
“There is no limit as to time (on) the Senate’s power to punish for contempt in cases where that power may constitutionally be exerted,” he said in a statement.
This followed claims by Ferdinand Topacio — the lawyer of the detained Pharmally executives Mohit Dargani and Linconn Ong — the Senate was scheduled to release his clients on June 3.
Dargani and Ong have been detained at the Pasay City jail for contempt, after they earlier failed to cooperate with senators regarding an investigation into the P12-billion contract awarded by the Department of Health.
“Congress is in the Third Session of the 18th Congress. This Congress ends at noon of June 30. Thus, any power that the Senate possesses and exercises does not end on June 3,” Gordon said.
“If Counsel for any of those detained has a problem with that, let him go to court for a clear interpretation of when a particular Congress — this 18th Congress — ends,” Gordon said.
Topacio last month said Dargani’s petition questioning his continued detention was transferred to another division of the Court of Appeals.
“In the final analysis, we are confident that should the matter reach the courts, then our clients will be fully vindicated in a forum where the rules are clear, and the sporting idea of fair play reigns supreme,” he said then.
The detained executives earlier claimed Gordon used them for “his own political ambitions,” noting that their lives and reputation were “robbed.”
Gordon has maintained they were detained because of a committee decision, with the Blue Ribbon panel “sparingly and rarely” exercising its power to declare contempt.