“As recorded in the Kathavatthu, the “Points of Controversy,” the main contention of the Puggalavadins or “Personalists” is that the person is known in a real and ultimate sense (saccikatthaparamatthena upalabbhati).20 Against this proposition a number of counter-arguments are adduced, which need not concern us here. What interests us, however, is that in denying that the person is known in a real and ultimate sense, the Theravadins admit that the khandhas or dhammas are known in a real and ultimate sense. Thus in their view what is real and ultimate is not the person but the khandhas or dhammas that enter into its composition.21”
Another great quote from prof. karunadasa that hopefully explains how dhammas are real
“The term paramattha is sometimes paraphased as bhutattha (the actual).67 This is explained to mean that the dhammas are not non-existent like an illusion or mirage or like the soul (purisa) and primordial nature (pakati) of the non-Buddhist schools of thought.68 The evidence for their existence is not based either on conventions (sammuti) or on mere scriptural authority (anussava).69 On the contrary, their very existence is vouchsafed by their own intrinsic nature.70 The very fact of their existence is the very mark of their reality. As the Visuddhimagga observes: “It (= dhamma) is that which, for those who examine it with the eye of understanding, is not misleading like an illusion, deceptive like a mirage, or undiscoverable like the self of the sectarians, but is rather the domain of noble knowledge as the real unmisleading actual state.” 71 The kind of existence implied here is not past or future existence, but present actual and verifiable existence (satvijjamanata).72 This emphasis on their actuality in the present phase of time rules out any association with the Sarvastivadins’ theory of tri-temporal existence. Thus, for the Theravadin, the use of the term paramattha does not carry any substantialist implications. It only means that the mental and material dhammas represent the utmost limits to which the analysis of empirical existence can be pushed.”
I think a wrong view of that sect. Apparently they believed elements exist in the past and future as well as present.
Seems a strange idea but think how many movies are based on time travel - which relies on thinking that the past or future is somehow existant.