"Perhaps they should stop acting like one."
The Pharmally siblings Mohit and Twinkle Dargani have gone into hiding to avoid arrest for contempt of Congress.
Executives of a small start-up that inexplicably bagged billions of pesos in government contracts for the purchase of pandemic supplies, Mohit, corporate secretary and treasurer, and Twinkle, company president, had refused to turn over documents sought by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.
While in hiding, Mohit e-mailed a statement to the press to complain about their treatment at the hands of the senators, who are investigating the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They treat us like criminals whose lives aren’t worthy anymore,” he said.
“We tried our best to cooperate and respect them, but this was completely out of harmony with accepted legal standards.”
“The President has nothing to do with our transactions with PS-DBM,” Dargani said, referring to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management, which blessed his company with more than P11 billion in government contracts. “We are being falsely accused for political gain. The election is near and we are like hostages. This is not for the country anymore. But for their political survival.”
Several points strike us as curious in Mohit Dargani’s statement.
First, nobody has directly linked President Duterte to the irregular transactions between Pharmally and the PS-DBM. Why, then, bring it up? If nobody is saying the President is guilty of any wrongdoing, why insist on his innocence? We can only surmise that this part of the statement was aimed at changing the perception of wrongdoing, which has been fueled by the President’s vociferous attack on the senators who are investigating the case and his vigorous defense of a company which he claims means nothing to him.
Second, the allegation that the senators are investigating Pharmally for political gain closely hews to the line of attack favored by the President and his faithful servants in the House of Representatives.
Third, Mohit Dargani’s claim that they tried their “best to cooperate” is clearly untrue, as evidenced by their refusal to produce the financial statements sought by the Blue Ribbon committee.
The chairman of that panel, Senator Richard Gordon, offered this succinct response to Mr. Dargani’s statement: “As Mr. Dargani continued to refuse to give us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, he left the committee no choice but to use its rarely-used power to cite him for contempt — not to punish him, but to compel him to give us a complete picture of the issue being investigated.”
If Mr. Dargani wishes not to be treated like a criminal, perhaps he should stop acting like one by going into hiding. We don’t know where he and his sister are hiding, of course. For all we know, they could be living out of their cars. For Mohit, that would be a 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S worth P8 million, which he purchased after his small start-up with no track record closed billion-peso contracts with the government. For Twinkle, that would be a 2021 Blu Astraeus 2021 Lamborghini Urus, valued at P25 million.
If Mr. Dargani thought he could generate some public sympathy with his statement, he is sadly mistaken.