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‘Evading Senate makes Pharmally execs look guilty’

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
âEvading Senate makes Pharmally execs look guiltyâ
“For us lawyers, there is a principle that says flight is evidence of guilt. If you flee, there is basis to believe you have committed something wrong,” Drilon told radio dwIZ in Filipino.
STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — By evading the Senate’s arrest order, siblings Mohit and Twinkle Dargani of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. appear to be guilty of the allegations against them in the P42-billion procurement deal for COVID-19 supplies, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said yesterday.

“For us lawyers, there is a principle that says flight is evidence of guilt. If you flee, there is basis to believe you have committed something wrong,” Drilon told radio dwIZ in Filipino.

The Darganis were cited in contempt and ordered arrested by the Senate during its hybrid hearing last Tuesday for refusing to provide the Blue Ribbon committee with the source documents of their declared financial statements despite several requests from senators in the last few weeks.

Mohit, who was invoking his rights as advised by his lawyer, went offline shortly after the motion to cite him and his sister in contempt was passed. They could no longer be located by the Senate sergeant-at-arms as of yesterday.

Sen. Richard Gordon, who chairs the committee, said the Darganis are considered “Senate fugitives.”

Drilon explained that the Darganis were ordered arrested and detained in the Senate not to punish them but to ensure that they cooperate with the inquiry.

So far, senators have discovered that Pharmally was awarded P11 billion in supply contracts despite having only P625,000 in capital because its owners allegedly had links to President Duterte’s friend and former adviser, Michael Yang.

Another Pharmally executive, Linconn Ong, is under detention at the Senate for refusing to disclose how much Yang had shelled out to aid the company financially. Ong has since petitioned the Supreme Court (SC) for his release.

Drilon said the Senate’s power to detain uncooperative resource persons has been upheld by the SC in previous rulings.

In the case of the Dargani siblings, he said the source documents was a simple request to validate the claim of Pharmally owners that their firm had P7.2 billion in their financial statements for procuring the face masks, face shields and other COVID-19 supplies for delivery to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).

He said Pharmally also claimed making donations worth P33 million, but with no supporting documents provided to the committee.

He said there should be no issue in providing the source documents, like receipts, as the financial statements are already of public record.

He said the Senate has sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation to track the whereabouts of the siblings.

He said the committee can also ask the assistance of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which has the power to demand the needed documents from Pharmally.

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