MANILA - Two key officials from the controversial Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp were absent at a Senate hearing Thursday despite a contempt order over their refusal to hand over subpoenaed documents on the firm's transactions.
This, as the the chamber continued its inquiry into the firm's allegedly anomalous deal with government for the supply of critical protective equipment for pandemic response.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee last week was unsuccessful in arresting Pharmally President Twinkle Dargani and her brother, the firm's Secretary and Treasurer Mohit Dargani, who were allegedly not in their registered addresses.
Days after the attempt to arrest them, Mohit released a statement, and said the Senate panel "failed to treat us justly."
"They want us detained because we asserted our rights, they can’t get what they want to hear from us," he had said.
Because of this, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Richard Gordon described the Darganis as "Senate fugitives."
"Ano po ang ginawa, instead po na magsalita, nawala na lang sa ating virtual meeting at hindi na po sumagot, ibig sabihin, tumakas na, nag-eskapo na, at naging fugitives sa Senado at hindi na sila nagpakita silang magkapatid," Gordon said.
(Instead of revealing what they know, they were gone in our virtual meeting and they no longer answered us. This means that they left, they became Senate fugitives and they no longer appeared to us)
"Yan po ang nagpapatunay na may tinatagong kasalanan itong mga ito. Nagpapatunay na malakas ang loob nila na gawin 'yan kasi may backers silang malaki," the lawmaker added.
(This shows that they are hiding something. They are also confident in doing so because they have big backers.)
The two were earlier cited in contempt and were ordered detained at the Senate premises after their refusal to hand over crucial documents to the Blue Ribbon Committee.
The Senate panel is investigating Pharmally after records showed that the budget department's procurement service awarded billions of pesos worth of government contracts to the company that only had less than a million pesos in paid-up capital.
The government denies there was overpricing and said the deals were above board.
The panel has so far recommended the filing of various charges against Pharmally's officers, Chinese businessman and former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang, and former budget Undersecretary Christopher Lao, among others, due to the allegedly anomalous transactions.