Hontiveros asks: Who paid for Dargani siblings’ P1.850-M chartered flight?

Published November 24, 2021, 12:31 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday said she would like to ask who paid for the chartered flight arranged by Pharmally Pharmaceutical executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani when they attempted to fly out of the Philippines last Nov. 14 at the Davao International Airport.

In an online press briefing, Hontiveros said she will ask this matter when the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee resumes its hearing on the government’s procurement of overpriced COVID-19 supplies from Pharmally.

Based on the documents obtained by her office, the senator said the Dargani siblings boarded a Seletar charter jet enroute to Kuala Lumpur, which cost around US $37,000 or P1.850-million for just one flight, based on the quotation from Seletar Jet Charter Pte. Ltd.

This covered the arrival of the chartered plane from Singapore to Davao; Davao to Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

Against this backdrop, Hontiveros said Mohit only paid P22,000 worth of income tax in 2019 or before the pandemic hit the country. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, and around the time Pharmally got sizeable deals with the government, Dargani merely maid more than P97,000 income tax, while Twinkle only paid P1,000.

“Mapapa-sana all ka na lang talaga. Kaya laking gulat namin nang matanggap namin ang dokumentong ito na nagkapapakitang mayroong nagbayad ng $37,000 US dollars para sa chartered flight nilang magkapatid (You can only hope everyone has it. That’s why were were astonished to receive this document that shows somebody paid $37 US dollars for the siblings’ chartered flight),” Hontiveros said.

Mohit is Pharmally’s corporate secretary and treasurer while Twinkle is the company’s president. The two executives are now under the Senate’s custody.

“Kaya ang nais kong itanong sa susunod na hearing ay ito: Kung kinaya ng mga Darganis na magbayad ng ganyang halaga, na halos 2-milyon pesos para sa isang chartered flight, mukhang hindi tama ang income tax na binayaran nila (That’s why I want to ask in the next hearing is this: if the Darganis were able to pay such an amount—almost P2-million—for one chartered flight, then they are not paying the correct income tax),” Hontiveros pointed out.

“At bukod pa dyan, kung hindi sila ang nagbayad, ang tanong tuloy, sino ang nagbayad (Aside from that, if they did not pay for it, the question now is, who paid for it)? The Darganis must be very important to that person who paid for it,” she said.

Hontiveros also said they were able to obtain an incident report from the Davao aiport last Nov. 14, the day they were arrested by the Office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms, the Senate’s security team.

She said the incident report cited that “upon arrival of the passengers, they were presented to the immigraiton personnel at the ramp near the aircraft and were checked personally one by one with their passport, and they were allowed to board the aircraft.”

“Very obvious that despite the fact that the Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order was already issued against the Darganis as early as September 25, muntik pa silang makalusot sa ating gates. Ano ba ang procedure? Paano at pinasakay pa sila ng aircraft (They were still nearly abe to pass through the gates. What is the procedure? How were they able to board the aircraft)?” the senator pointed out.

Hontiveros said that since her Senate Committee on Women and Children was able to expose the “pastillas scheme” or the bribery scam in the Bureau of Immigration (BI), she is now interested to dig deeper.

“Could it be possible na nabigyan ng pastillas itong mga (Could it be possible they were able to bribe the) frontline immigration officer? Or baka naman sila ang nakatulong na mainform ang mga awtoridad kung kaya dapat sila pasalamatan (Or maybe this actually helped inform the authorities and they should be thankful)? What is the story?” she said.

But she said the biggest question surrounding the Dargani siblings botched escape was why they chose to exit the Philippines through Davao City, which is a known bailiwick of President Duterte.

“Is there a reason kung bakit Davao airport ang pinili nilang (why they chose Davao airport as their) departure point?” Hontiveros asked.