Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque insisted Monday, Nov. 15 that Malacañang deserves credit for the authorities’ foiling of the Dargani siblings’ attempt to flee the country.
Roque, in his last press conference as Palace mouthpiece, said the executive branch could have allowed the two controversial Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp executives from leaving the Philippines, if it wanted to.
“Well ang importante po, executive branch din ang pumigil sa kanilang pag-alis galing Pilipinas (The important thing is, it’s the executive branch that halted them from leaving the Philippines). I don’t think it can be done without the cooperation of the executive branch kasi ang airport po ay under the executive branch (because the airport is under the executive branch),” he said.
On Sunday afternoon, Senate security personnel led by Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Rene Samonte arrested Mohit and Twinkle Darganis at the Davao City International Airport. The Pharmally officials were reportedly about to board a private plane.
When Malacañang reporters pointed out that it was people from the Senate that arrested the siblings, Roque said: “Obviously the airport is under authority of the executive branch. So it could have been ignored.”
“Pinayagan dapat silang lumipad kung gugustuhin. Pero hindi nga po sila pinayagang lumipad (They could have been allowed to fly if the executive wanted it. But they weren’t allowed to fly),” he stressed.
“So we abided with the rule of law, sinunod po natin ang contempt powers ng Senado (We followed the contempt powers of the Senate). Kaya (That’s why) I’m saying, it’s the executive also that should be attributed to this act dahil pwede po silang pinalipad kung gugustuhin ng airport authorities (because they could have been allowed to fly if the airport authorities wanted it),” Roque said.
Incidentally, Davao is the bailiwick of President Duterte, who spent over two decades as mayor there.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, has been holding marathon hearings on Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. since August.
The investigation has focused on the alleged anomalies in the Duterte government’s procurement of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) supplies in 2020. President Duterte has repeatedly assailed the way the Senate has conducted its probe on Pharmally, which had been awarded multi-billion contracts for the supply deals.
Last week, Roque denied claims that Duterte is now on “damage control” mode since supposedly, the Pharmally issue is beginning to take a toll on his administration.