MANILA (UPDATE 3) - Pharmally executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani were arrested in Davao City on Sunday afternoon.
According to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Rene Samonte, the Dargani siblings were on board a private plane bound for Kuala Lumpur when they were arrested at around 5 p.m.
They were immediately brought to Manila and placed under the custody of the Senate in Pasay City.
The Dargani siblings have been cited in contempt by the Senate for refusing to submit subpoenaed documents from their firm.
The Senate knew about the Dargani siblings’ plan to flee the country as early as Saturday, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon said.
“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,” he told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
“Evasion and flight is always interpreted as clear signs of guilt,” he said.
The Senate's Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) also tried to arrest former Budget Undersecretary Christopher Lloyd Lao.
The office served a copy of Lao's arrest order to a woman occupant of his condominium unit in Cebu City. His house in Davao City had no occupant on Saturday.
Gordon commended the OSAA for doing its job to “protect the Senate‘s enforcement of law rules and duty.”
“People cannot doubt the Senate’s commitment for truth and justice,” the senator said.
“People will be convinced that crimes were committed from these events. Evasion has always been the strategy. This includes former Usec. Lao and the Pharmally staff et al,” he said.
The Senate panel is investigating Pharmally after records showed that the PS-DBM awarded billions of pesos worth of government contracts to the company that only had less than a million pesos in paid-up capital.
Some senators earlier said the PS-DBM bought allegedly overpriced face masks and RT-PCR test kits from the company, whose executives are accused of fraudulent schemes in Taiwan, instead of procuring from local suppliers that were selling cheaper items.
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 Lao, among others, due to the allegedly anomalous transactions.
President Rodrigo Duterte has denied the overpricing allegations and said the deals with Pharmally were above aboard.
- with reports from Katrina Domingo and Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News