Mohit Dargani, director of PHARMALY. Picture file
THE Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by a Pharmally executive who was ordered detained by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigating an alleged anomalous scam of multi-billion procurement involving officials from the Department of Budget and Management.
The decision of the 4th branch of the Court of Appeal will keep Mohit Dargani, general secretary and treasurer of Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., in the custody of the Pasay city prison, where he has been detained since November.
Mohit, along with his sister Twinkle and the director of Pharmally Linconn Ong, were arrested by the Blue Ribbon Committee for refusing to submit subpoenaed financial documents related to alleged irregularities in the procurement of pandemic relief supplies .
The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms staff apprehended the Dargani siblings as they attempted to flee the country in a private jet.
Mohit filed an administrative lawsuit in the Supreme Court against Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals Apolinario Bruselas Jr. for his alleged failure to pursue the habeas corpus petition.
The application for a writ of habeas corpus was partially resolved on March 1 when the CA ordered it dismissed, but only with respect to the plaintiff’s sister, Twinkle.
Twinkle was released from custody in January and placed under house arrest by the Senate panel.
The latest decision ruled that “[Pharmally]which has entered into multi-billion dollar transactions with the government, falls under the investigative authority of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.” The appeals court held that the petitioner’s right to due process was not violated because that the Senate had published its rules on the conduct of investigations.
“Even a cursory reading of the petition shows that the petitioner did not raise the non-publication of said rules,” the court said.
“It is indisputable that the transaction of providing goods to the government by Pharmally is part of the operations of the Philippine government and the expenditure of public funds is a necessary consequence; the same are legitimate subjects of legislation and investigation,” the decision read.
The AC said the Darganis had ample time and several opportunities to comply with the subpoena duces tecum and directions given by senators during the hearings to produce and submit documents.
“Yet they persisted in failing and refusing to submit these documents,” the appeals court said.
The AC explained that the Senate investigation was valid and that “the contempt order is legal.” “[T]The contempt order that orders the detention of the petitioner necessarily includes the power of arrest to be implemented even beyond the Senate chamber,” he said.