Press Release
November 29, 2021

29 NOVEMBER 2021

The Philippine Senate, half of a co-equal branch of government, has been granted powers of legislation and oversight by the Constitution. It works through Committees, one of which is the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations:

"All matters relating to, including investigation of, malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office by officers and employees of the government, its branches, agencies, subdivisions and instrumentalities; implementation of the provision of the Constitution on nepotism; and investigation of any matter of public interest on its own initiative or brought to its attention by any member of the Senate." Rule X, Section 13 (36)

In the exercise of its powers and prerogatives, the Committee, when faced with lying witnesses and disrespectful resource persons, is not bereft of compulsory processes to ensure that the institution of the Senate is respected, its honor preserved and its integrity maintained whole.

In the investigation into the DOH expenditures of funds for COVID-19 response, the Committee's work has faced obstacles to deter, delay, or otherwise side-track its course.

Pharmally Pharmaceutical Executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani, as well as Linconn Ong, have been evasive in answering questions, uttered lies, and spewed falsities, forcing the Committee to exercise its rarely used powers of contempt, ordering the incarceration of the three.

The Darganis hid from the Senate, after having been cited for contempt, frustrating the Office of the Sergeant at Arms (OSAA) from taking a hold of them. Because of well-meaning citizens and public officers' tips, the Senate was able to arrest them as they were about to escape to Kuala Lumpur via a private jet hired for that specific purpose. There is a legal principle that tells us that flight is an indication of guilt.

In the succeeding hearing, when asked about documents needed to complete the investigation, Mr. Dargani averred that they were in boxes located somewhere. Accommodating his request, he was allowed to confer with Mr. Linconn Ong for the purpose of locating the supposed boxes of documents.

The following day, the OSAA made arrangement for the trip outside the Senate to retrieve those documents. But the trip could not materialize as Mr. Dargani kept making excuses pointing to three probable locations: office, residence, or warehouse. He was informed by OSAA that they could go to all three locations but Mr. Dargani hemmed and hawed, resulting in the cancellation of the trip.

Mr. Dargani's and Mr. Linconn's continuous lying, continuous refusal to answer questions truthfully and forthrightly, and the constant "palusot" have crossed the line.

The Senate in preserving and protecting the institution has decided to transfer them to the Pasay City jail. Their continuing presence in the Senate premises also had put a strain to an overstretched OSAA, whose primary function is to protect the Senate building, secure the people coming in and out, especially the employees, and because of the pandemic, making sure that those who enter the building are free from the virus that has caused many lives both in and out of Senate premises.

The Senate and public interest demand the truth of the overpricing of supplies, and the favoritism granted a company (Pharmally), whose capitalization was only P625,000, contracts amounting to billions of pesos. If we do not go into the bottom of this scandal, we will not be able to hold accountable those responsible; and, the repetition of such a dastardly deed becomes a high probability still.

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