MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday questioned the connection of one of the Dargani sibling’s lawyers with an office under the House of Representatives.
During Friday’s resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee probe, Lacson asked Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. corporate secretary and treasurer Mohit Dargani about one of their lawyers, Atty. Daryl Valles.
“I am particularly interested in the lawyering business of Atty. Valles. Because when the new spokesperson of the President was interviewed, he averred that Atty. Valles used to work in the office of the Special Assistant to the President until March 1, 2021,” Lacson said.
“And since then, he’s now connected with the office of a member of the House of Representatives,” he added.
‘He left that job’
Dargani, who is under the custody of the Senate, said he believes Valles “was connected with the House of Representatives, but he left that job.”
When asked if he knew this for a fact, Dargani said, “I take his (Valles’) word for it,” adding that Valles had resigned from the House as of August 2021 when they spoke.
According to Dargani, Valles is a “family lawyer that we retained since August of this year.”
But if Valles remains affiliated with the office of a House lawmaker at this time, Lacson said this raises possible conflict of interest.
The senator pointed to Republic Act No. 6713 or the law establishing the ethical standards for government employees.
Under Section 7, Paragraph (b)(2) of the law, it is unlawful to “engage in the private practice of their profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions,” according to Lacson.
He added that the law penalizes such violations with imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding P5,000.
Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon then instructed the panel to verify Valles’ employment status.
“Kung government ang kalaban sa kaso, he is not allowed to practice his profession no matter how limited,” Lacson went on.
(Even if Valles had limited authority granted by the House Speaker, there is still a limitation. If you are lawyering against the government, you will not be allowed to practice your profession no matter how limited.)
The Dargani siblings are currently detained in the Senate after being arrested in Davao City when they were about to flee to Malaysia despite being cited for contempt by the Senate blue ribbon panel.
Pharmally is at the center of the panel’s investigation after over P8.6 billion supply contracts for pandemic-related items were awarded to the firm in 2020.
During the inquiry, several senators saw alleged favoritism in the awarding of contracts to the firm as they doubted the financial capacity of Pharmally since it was only established in 2019 with a small capital of P625,000 when it secured the medical supply deals.
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