MANILA - The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Tuesday cited Pharmally executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani in contempt for their failure to submit subpoenaed documents from their firm.
Part of the contempt order is to detain the siblings in Senate premises, as the marathon hearings on the government's procurement deals with the company resumed for the 12th day.
Mohit, who is Pharmally's secretary and treasurer, said it is the company that refused to hand over the subpoenaed documents, and it is supposedly covered by a certain law.
"I am not refusing. It is the company that is refusing to provide these documents. At the same time, these documents are legally accessed under different procedures under the law and we are just invoking our right. I am not refusing," he said.
The Pharmally executive further noted that the move was advised to them by their legal counsel. His sister, Twinkle, is the company President.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the contempt order aimed to pressure the siblings to comply with the subpoena. The two, he said, have access to such documents and are "fully responsible" for it.
"For the production of these documents, let Mr. Mohit Dargani question us in court. We are willing to stand by this," said Drilon, a former Justice Secretary.
The two would be detained in the Senate until "they answer the questions that [were] raised to them," according to the lawmaker.
Pharmally's head accountant, Jeff Mariano, was also summoned to the hearings.
Mariano is key to answer the questions regarding the supposed deed of donations of the firm to the government, as well as the claim that he blocked the access of an external accountant to supporting files for transactions.
Mohit is supposedly looking for Mariano.
The Senate panel investigated Pharmally after records showed that the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (PS-DBM) awarded since last year billions-worth of contracts to the company that only had less than a million pesos in paid-up capital.
President Rodrigo Duterte defended the deals and said they were above board.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee, said public funds wasted on anomalous transactions could have been used for the benefits of health workers who are battling COVID-19 in the frontlines.