Palace can’t bar Yang, Lao from attending Senate probes–Sotto
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte may block his Cabinet men from attending Senate hearings but not his former economic adviser, Michael Yang, and other personalities being dragged into the controversial Pharmally deals with the government.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III made this clear as he asserted the Senate’s power to issue subpoenas and warrants of arrest against resource persons.
“Hindi naman pwedeng pigilan ng executive department yung mga hindi government officials. Ang pwede lang pigilan yung Cabinet officials pero si Michael Yang hindi naman Cabinet yun,” Sotto said over Teleradyo.
(The executive department can’t prohibit those who are not government officials. They can prevent Cabinet officials but not Michael Yang, he’s not part of the Cabinet.)
Senators learned from ongoing investigation that Yang helped financed the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. that won over P8.6-billion worth of contracts from government last year when its paid-up capital was only P625, 000.
Like Yang, Sotto said, resigned Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao and Pharmally Director Linconn Ong could not be barred from appearing before the Senate probes.
“Hindi na sya gobyerno, nag resign sya e,” the Senate leader said, referring to Lao. “Hindi na sila pwedeng pigilan. Nasa power ngayon ng Senado yung either i-subpoena sila or i warrant of arrest sila.”
(He is no longer in government, he already resigned. They can’t be barred. It’s now within the power of the Senate to either subpoena or issue a warrant of arrest against them.)
Both Yang and Ong were placed under arrest by the Senate blue ribbon committee for being evasive during one its hearings on the issue.
But in his latest address to the nation aired on Tuesday, Duterte said he would no longer allow his Cabinet members to attend the probe without getting his clearance first.
“There are only two ways na pwedeng puntahan ng executive department— either they block or they unblock,” Sotto said.
But because the Senate has its own powers, he said the chamber could still “unblock” and find out whether public funds were indeed spent to procure overpriced medical supplies from Pharmally.
“Ipapapaala ko nga sa kanilang lahat na tayo meron tayong tinatawag na three branches of government, separation of powers yan e. May powers sarili ang executive, meron ang Judiciary, meron din ang legislative,” Sotto said.
(I’m reminding them that we have so-called three branches of government, that’s separation of powers. The Executive has its own powers, as well as the Judiciary and the Legislative.)
“E kami talagang may power kaming binigay ng Konstitusyon na mag imbestiga. Kasama sa trabaho namin yan. Kaya pag sinabi nyong gawin nyo ang trabaho nyo, ginagawa namin,” he added.
(And we really have the power provided for in the Constitution to investigate. That’s part of our job. That’s why when you tell us to do our job, we are doing our job.)
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