Sen. Richard Gordon and Sen. Panfilo Lacson on November 15 stressed the arrest of Pharmally executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani while about to leave for Malaysia from Davao City only proved that the city is not a “safe haven” for them. 

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said “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.” 

Duterte-Carpio said there was nothing to hide in Davao City and that the local government supports law enforcement.

The Darganis were accused in the alleged anomalous deals they entered with the government in the multi-billion procurement of COVID-19 medical supplies.

“(Sunday) afternoon at around 5pm , 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,” related Gordon. 

However, he said, it’s not surprising that the Dargani siblings 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,” noted Gordon. 

Gordon, chairperson of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee who led the probe into the irregularities in procurement of medical equipment in response to Covid-19.

According to the standard bearer of Partido Reporma, “There’s no safe haven on earth, even for people like Yang, Lao, and the Dargani siblings. Davao City is not a haven. They should stop thinking di sila magalaw doon. “

“As what was proven yesterday, they are now in the Senate premises. They will be ‘forced’ to attend the November 25 Blue Ribbon hearing,” he said.

In the past few weeks, he said the Senate has 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.

“We recalled that Mojit Dargani had two passports – one from Philippines and one from another country as he has admitted during our public hearing. We knew they were hatching their grand escape via the back door,” said Senator.

“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 Undersec. Lao who has also been evading arrest,”  said Gordon. 

“We thank Senate President Vicente Sotto III who called me last night and made arrangements for a private plane to take the Dargani siblings back to Manila. We also commend Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Rene Samonte and his men for doing their job well in protecting the Senate’s enforcement of its rules,” said Gordon.

But Gordon said their  task is not yet complete. He said the Darganis will be detained at the Senate until they tell the Filipino people the whole truth. 

“We hope they will be more forthright in answering our questions in the next hearing on November 26,” he further said.

Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-arms (OSAA) personnel arrested the Darganis at the Davao International Airport before boarding a chartered flight for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sunday. The siblings had since gone into hiding until they were caught.

Still at large are former Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service OIC Christopher Lao and former presidential adviser Michael Yang.

Also, Lacson said that while Yang appears “untouchable” so far, “our people in the Senate are not sleeping on the job,” and that both he and Lao “have been cited for contempt.”

“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,” Lacson said.

The Darganis are currently jailed at the Senate detention facility. They were cited in contempt by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee for refusing to submit Pharmally’s financial records.

Also detained in the Senate is Linconn Ong, another Pharmally executive.