The Dargani siblings (Mohit and Twinkle, 3rd and 4th from left) following their arrest in Davao City
Those who arrested Pharmally executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani in the southeastern city of Davao purportedly for Malaysia to evade participating in continuing hearings of the Senate which cited them in contempt deserve our hand.
But, as Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon said, the task of getting out the truth is far from over, while stressing the Dargani siblings, flown in from Davao this week after their arrest at the Davao airport,will continue to be detained at the Senate until they tell the Filipino people what they know about the Pharmally procurement.
The Senate committee expects the Darganis, arrested around 5 pm Sunday at the Davao City airport aboard a plane bound for Kuala Lumpur, will be more forthright in answering its questions on November 26.
We agree with Senator Panfilo Lacson, a member of the Blue Ribbon, that the Senate should continue to learn its lessons from the Darganis’ near-escape, and adapt accordingly.
Lacson has said: “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.”
Gordon and Lacson have both stressed the Darganis’ arrest only proved that Davao city was not a “safe haven” for them.
But Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio quickly said the arrest in her turf only showed that the city government remained open and would not discriminate against anyone when it came to law enforcement.
“It only shows that we are open. Our city is not closed to the things that need to be enforced by the government whether it’s from the judiciary or legislative branches of the government,” she said.
Duterte-Carpio said there was nothing to hide in Davao City and that the local government supported all efforts to enforce the law, adding “We should really support the duties of the government. We have nothing to hide here in Davao City.”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, meanwhile, said the executive branch deserved credit for the arrest of the Dargani siblings, adding it could have allowed the two from leaving the Philippines if it wanted to.
“I don’t think it can be done without the cooperation of the Executive department. The airport is under the Executive branch of government,” Roque said in a press briefing, stressing “the important thing is, it’s the executive branch that halted them from leaving the Philippines. I don’t think it can be done without the cooperation of the executive branch because the airport is under the executive branch,” he said.
The Darganis were tagged in the alleged anomalous deals they entered into with the government in the multi-billion procurement of COVID-19 medical supplies.
“(On Sunday) afternoon at around 5 pm, acting on a tip we received from concerned citizens, they were apprehended by a team of the Senate Sergeant-at-arms when they were about to flee via an executive privately chartered flight to Malaysia,” according to Gordon, without mentioning the Executive branch.
However, he said it was not surprising that the Dargani siblings sought sanctuary in the President’s hometown 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,” noted Gordon.
Gordon, the chairperson of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, is leading the probe into the irregularities in the procurement of medical equipment to respond to COVID-19.
Lacson said the arrest of the Dargani siblings showed there was no such thing as a safe haven — not even Davao City.
Lacson has a point when he said: “If the Dargani siblings thought that Davao City is a safe haven, just like Michael Yang and Christopher Lao are thinking, they should think again.”
Gordon himself said the arrest of the Darganis proved anew that the siblings were trying to abscond from any liabilities.
In the past few weeks, he said the Senate had been scouring possible hideouts of the Darganis after they were cited in contempt and ordered to be arrested for refusing to submit documents the Senate needed in its investigation.
There had been reports that Mojit Dargani had two passports – one from Philippines and another from another country as he had admitted in one of the Blue Ribbon’s public hearings, We hear Gordon saying once more, “ We knew they were hatching their grand escape via the back door.”
“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,” said Gordon.
Now we wait for the Blue Ribbon hearing resumption before the end of this month. (ai/mtvn)