Lacson, Sotto debunk Duterte’s claim that Senate probes lead to ‘nothing’
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators debunked the claim of President Rodrigo Duterte that Senate investigations lead to “nothing,” with one saying the Chief Executive should just focus on his administration’s “shortcomings” instead.
“Filipinos should not believe him that nothing has come out of our Senate inquiries,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said in a text message on Friday when sought for comment on Duterte’s remarks.
“The president should instead spend his time to focus on the shortcomings of his administration due to incompetence and corruption of several of his officials, not only in addressing the pandemic but in the many aspects of governance,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the President may just be “misinformed.”
“Baka nakalimutan niya (Maybe he forgot) or misinformed, I will send him the Senate report on the Committee of the Whole investigation on PhilHealth,” Sotto said in another text message to reporters.
In a taped public address aired late Thursday, the President criticized what he claimed was the “posturing” of some senators and called on the public not to believe their investigations as they only result to “nothing”—”no recommendation, no charges filed, no persons jailed.”
Both Sotto and Lacson begged to differ.
“Most of his appointed officers have now pending cases and were removed because of the Senate investigation,” Sotto said, referring to the Senate’s investigation into alleged anomalies within PhilHealth.
Lacson cited the outcome of the Senate’s investigation into the hazing and death of University of Santo Tomas freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
“The Anti-Hazing law and the incarceration of those responsible for the hazing to death of a UST student 2-3 years ago is just one of many positive outcomes of such inquiries, not to mention the countless laws that we passed and which our people continue to benefit from,” Lacson said.
In a separate message to reporters, Lacson said the reason why high-ranking officials previously investigated by the Senate have not faced cases is because the President is “defending” them.
“Kaya hindi nakakasuhan ang ilang matataas na opisyal na naging subject ng pag-iimbestiga namin ay dahil ipinagtatanggol niya sa halip na makasuhan,” he said.
(Some ranking officials who are the subject of our investigations are not charge because they are being defended by the President.)
“Hindi trabaho ng Senado ang magsampa ng demanda. Function ng executive branch yun. Judiciary naman ang magpapakulong. Mahirap bang i-memorize yun?” he added.
(It is not the duty of the Senate to file cases. It the executive branch’s. The judiciary will handle the case.)
Lacson also advised Duterte to “read and review the constitutional doctrine on separation of powers and system of checks and balances in a republic under a presidential form of government like ours.”
For his part, Senator Joel Villanueva said Senate investigations have led to the “correction of bad policies, money of taxpayers saved, crimes averted, questions answered and the truth revealed.”
“Probes are not hobbies that we pursue, but a constitutional duty we perform. It is a role assigned to us by the people and not something we do on a whim,” Villanueva said.
“We do not relish conducting investigation[s]. In fact, we shall be happy if the need ceases to exist because it would mean that a government is running smoothly, free from irregularities,” he added.
Senator Francis Pangilinan also weighed in on the remarks of the President.
“Wala naman hearing sa Senado kung walang nirereklamo at dinadaing ang mga frontliners, mga hospital operators, mga doctor at nurse at pati mga lgu officials na nangagalaiti na at frustrated na sa palpak at tiwaling palakad sa DoH,” he said.
“Malacanang should listen in on these hearings para malaman nila ang pagdurusa na dinaranas ng mga kababayan natin,” Pangilinan added.
Currently, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is investigating the Department of Health’s handling of its pandemic budget after state auditors flagged “deficiencies” on how the agency managed such funds.
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