Pharmally’s Dargani siblings detained at Senate after Davao arrest

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Pharmally�s Dargani siblings detained at Senate after Davao arrest
Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. executives Mohit (white shirt) and Twinkle Dargani (blue long-sleeved shirt) are apprehended by Senate security in Davao City on November 14, 2021, as they try to catch a private flight to Malaysia. They are now detained in the Senate building..
Released / Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms

MANILA, Philippines — Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani are now detained at the Senate and will remain there until they hand over key documents related to the firm's government deals to the blue ribbon panel that cited them in contempt. 

The siblings were apprehended by Senate security in Davao City on Sunday afternoon as they were trying to flee "via an executive privately chartered flight to Malaysia," reeelectionist Sen. Richard Gordon, blue ribbon chairman, said in a statement. He added that the Senate sergeant-at-arms team was "acting on a tip we received from a concerned citizen." 

Gordon said Senate President Vicente Sotto III arranged for a private plane to fly the siblings back to Manila later that evening. 

The Darganis were able to speak to their lawyer on Sunday night, retired Gen. Rene Samonte — Senate sergeant-at-arms — told Philstar.com. "And the lawyer just asked to visit today, which is allowed within their rights of visitation." 

It is unclear if the Darganis will contest their detention as Pharmally director Linconn Ong has done at the Supreme Court. The siblings previously said that it was their legal counsel who advised them not to submit the source documents related to the firm's sales and purchases to senators. 

Ong has been detained at the Senate building since September 21 over his refusal to tell senators how much money former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang lent the firm. 

Gordon: 'Not surprising' that Darganis fled to Davao 

"It is...not surprising that they sought sanctuary in [President Rodrigo Duterte's] home town of Davao and plotted to execute their grand escape from there," Gordon said. "Indeed, they chartered a private plane and were leaving via Davao where they figured they could be safe and make law enforcement officers pause or hesitate to arrest them." 

While Duterte recently said that Pharmally executives who failed to pay their taxes should be arrested, he has repeatedly defended the government's deals with the firm and continues to attack senators over their inquiry. He has also barred members of the Cabinet from attending the Senate panel's hearings, a move that senators have challenged as unconstitutional in the high court. 

"Flight, especially on an expensive international chartered jet, is truly a clear sign of guilt," Gordon said. "Evasion has always been the strategy of the guilty."

"This should also apply to former [Budget] Undersecretary [Lloyd] Lao who has also been evading arrest." 

Lao was cited in contempt and ordered arrested by the blue ribbon on November 4 over his failure to attend the panel's hearings. Senate security has yet to locate him, telling Philstar.com last week that they were broadening their search to his known addresses in the Visayas and Mindanao. 

'Nowhere to run now': Senators advise Darganis to tell the truth 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson in an interview with ANC's "Headstart" on Monday said the siblings' arrest proves that "there's no such thing as a safe haven," not even the president's hometown. 

"If the Darganis thought Davao City is a safe haven just like Michael Yang and Christopher Lao [did], they should think again," Lacson, who is running for president in 2022, said. Senate President Sotto is Lacson's running mate.

He said, however, that the Senate should learn from its mistakes when it comes to failed attempts to serve arrest warrants. 

"It bears repeating that we should also continue to learn our lessons from what happened and adapt accordingly — in this case, making sure that even with virtual hearings, the Senate retains its element of surprise and does not telegraph its moves." 

Meanwhile, reelectionist Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she now expects "that the Dargani siblings will now be more forthright in their testimonies."

"I hope that the Dargani siblings will answer our questions properly and truthfully, especially on the cost of goods sold so that we can really calculate if there are any more tax obligations they and Pharmally have to our government," she said in a statement written partially in Filipino. 

"They have nowhere to run. They have nowhere to hide," Hontiveros added. "They cannot hide from the truth." 

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who is running for vice president, added in his own statement that the Dargani's arrest is a "warning to all involved" in the biggest corruption scandal of the year. 

All four senators commended the Senate Office of the Sergeant-At-Arms led by retired Gen. Rene Samonte for nabbing the siblings before they could flee. 

vuukle comment




  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with