Hontiveros: Chartered flight of Pharmally's Dargani siblings to Malaysia cost P1.85 million

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Hontiveros: Chartered flight of Pharmally's Dargani siblings to Malaysia cost P1.85 million
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 — The flight ferrying Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani to Davao City, and later, Malaysia, cost USD 37,000 or P1.85 million, while the two were still allowed to board the aircraft after being checked by immigration personnel, documents obtained by the office of Sen. Risa Hontiveros found. 

It is yet unclear who spent the amount to get the two to Kuala Lumpur. The Dargani siblings were apprehended at the Davao Airport on Sunday, November 14, in Davao City as they were trying to flee "via an executive privately chartered flight to Malaysia," Sen. Richard Gordon claimed in a statement then.

At a press briefing Wednesday, Hontiveros presented the confidential contract showing the price of the flight and the incident report of the arrest acquired by her office as she questioned why the two siblings were allowed to board when an immigration lookout bulletin had already been issued against them at the time. 

"Upon arrival of the passengers, they were presented to the immigration personnel at the ramp near the aircraft and were checked personally one by one with their corresponding passport, and they were allowed to board the aircraft," the incident report detailing their arrest reads. 

"What was the procedure? How did they even board the aircraft?" Hontiveros also asked. "Could it be possible that these frontline immigration officers were given pastillas? Or was it them who helped inform the authorities?"

A lookout bulletin order directs immigration officers to immediately relay information to the Office of the Secretary of Justice and the Office of the Prosecutor General if any of the respondents attempt to leave the country via any of the international airports and seaports.

The two siblings have been detained at the Senate since November 14 after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee cited them in contempt. They will remain there until they hand over key documents related to the firm's government deals under investigation by the committee. 

Daryl Ritchie Valles, one of four lawyers named by the Dargani siblings as their legal counsel, was earlier accused of trying to hide his ties to the Palace after reelectionist Sen. Richard Gordon's staff discovered that the Office of the President's directory lists him as Director IV at the Office of the Special Assistant to the President.

Hontiveros also questioned the flight's price tag, considering their income taxes paid thus far. 

In 2019, the senator said Mohit Dargani paid P22,000 pesos while Twinkle's data was unavailable. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, when Pharmally had secured sizeable deals with the government, Mohit recorded more than P97,000 pesos taxes paid, and Twinkle paid P1,000.

"If the Darganis were able to pay that amount, which is nearly 2-million pesos for a chartered flight, it looks like the income tax they paid was incorrect. And besides, if they didn't pay, the question goes, who paid?"

"The biggest question of all: Is there a reason why Davao airport is their departure point?" Hontiveros also asked. 

— with a report from Bella Perez-Rubio

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 19, 2021 - 11:39am

Follow this page for development on the government's allegedly overpriced pandemic response deals.

Photo credit: Screen grab from Senate of the Philippines YouTube page

October 19, 2021 - 11:39am

Ahead of today's hearing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque tells the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that no officials from the DOH will able to attend.

Duque says this is because the memorandum barring them from attending hearing connected to the investigation is still in effect.

The DOH chief adds that President Rodrigo Duterte directed them to "give way to equally important COVID-19 response activities." — report from Bella Perez-Rubio


October 4, 2021 - 12:31pm

In a House hearing, Pharmally's Krizle Mago claims that her previous statement that the firm switched out the expiry dates of face shields sold to government was a "pressured response."

Senate President Tito Sotto, however, says they will leave it to the Ombudsman to assess later on.

"A statement made under oath incriminating oneself has more weight than a recantation," Sotto says. — Bella Perez-Rubio

October 1, 2021 - 7:00pm

House blue ribbon panel chair Mike Aglipay says that Pharmally executive Krizle Grace Mago has just been placed under protective custody of the chamber’s sgt-at-arms.

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