Senate of the Philippines

Gordon: Dargani siblings’ jet flight ‘clear sign of guilt’

Jairo Bolledo
Gordon: Dargani siblings’ jet flight ‘clear sign of guilt’

MEDICAL CHECKUP: Officers of the Senate Medical and Dental Bureau conduct a medical check-up on arrested Pharmally executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani following their arrival at the Senate Sunday evening, November 14, 2021.

Henzberg Austria/Senate PRIB

Senator Richard Gordon, who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee, adds he is not surprised the Dargani siblings were apprehended in Davao City

Senator Richard Gordon, who heads the Senate probe into the Pharmally controversy, said the recent flight of Pharmally executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani using an expensive chartered jet was a clear sign of guilt.

“Flight, especially on an expensive international chartered jet, is truly a clear sign of guilt. Evasion has always been the strategy of the guilty. This should also apply to former PS-DBM Undersecretary Lao who has also been evading arrest,” Gordon said in a statement on Monday, November 15. 

On Sunday, the Senate security arrested the siblings at the Davao International Airport in Davao City. The siblings were apprehended while onboard a private plane prior to their departure for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

The Senate earlier issued arrest orders against the two for refusing to submit documents in relation to Pharmally’s financial dealings. Twinkle is Pharmally’s president, while Mohit serves as the corporate secretary and treasurer.

Gordon, who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee, added he was not surprised that the Dargani siblings were apprehended in Davao City – President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown. 

“It is, however, not surprising that they sought sanctuary in the President’s home town of Davao and plotted to execute their grand escape from there. 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,” Gordon added. 

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An investigative report published by Rappler in August revealed that Michael Yang is connected to Pharmally, which was flagged for overpriced pandemic supplies. Yang is Duterte’s former economic adviser. 

Commendations

During a Senate session on Monday, the Senate agreed to pass an unnumbered resolution, which seeks to commend the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and the staff of the blue ribbon committee for the arrest of Dargani siblings.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, meanwhile, warned individuals who won’t honor the Senate’s orders. 

Sa magkapatid na Dargani, wala ring mag-sa-substitute sa inyo diyan sa pansamantalang kulungan. Paparusahan ang lahat ng hindi marunong rumespeto o sa [pagbabalewala] sa mga kautusan at alituntunin ng Senado bilang institusyon,” Pangilinan said. 

(To the Dargani siblings, there will not be any substitution for your temporary detention. All those who do not respect the orders and rules of the Senate as an institution will be punished.)

Senator Panfilo Lacson also pointed out there was no such thing as a safe haven even in the president’s hometown. 

Kung inaakala ng magkapatid na Dargani na safe haven ang Davao City, just like Michael Yang and Christopher Lao are thinking, they should think again. There is no such thing as a safe haven,” Lacson said.

(If the Darganis thought Davao City is a safe haven just like Michael Yang and Christopher Lao, they should think again. There’s no such thing as a safe haven.)

Senator Risa Hontiveros added that with the arrest of the siblings, they are now expected to be more direct in their testimonies for the Senate probe. 

“I expect that the Dargani siblings will now be more forthright in their testimonies. Wala na silang matatakbuhan. Wala na silang matataguan (They have nowhere to run to or to go to). They cannot hide from the truth,” Hontiveros said in a statement. 

In his briefing on Monday, Duterte’s spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the executive branch also deserves credit for the arrest of the siblings. 

“[The Senate sergeant at arms] could have been ignored by the executive if it wanted to so we abided by the rule of law, sinunod po natin ang contempt powers ng Senado, so I’m saying it’s also the executive who should be attributed in this act, dahil pwede silang pinalipad kung gugustuhin ng airport authorities,” Roque said. 

([The Senate sergeant at arms] could have been ignored by the executive if it wanted to so we abided by the rule of law, we followed the contempt powers of the Senate, so I’m saying it’s also the executive who should be attributed in this act, because they could have been allowed to fly if the airport authorities permitted it.)

Duterte, who leads the executive branch, seeks to block his cabinet members and witnesses from participating in the Senate probe. – With a report with Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com 

Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.