Duterte set to bar Cabinet men from Senate probe on pandemic purchase deals
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he will formally bar Cabinet members from attending the Senate inquiry into the government’s purchase of allegedly overpriced medical supplies for the COVID-19 pandemic so that they could focus on the pandemic response.In his latest public address, Duterte said he has ordered Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to prepare the proper issuance for barring Cabinet officials from attending the Senate investigation.
“I will issue a memorandum na lahat ng nasa Executive Department will no longer obey your summons,” he said.
“Kailan ito matapos (When will this end?) Till kingdom come? Who are you to say that? That is a very undemocratic statement and you want Filipino nation pati kami dito sa executive department, damayan mo?” he said.
He made the statement after he criticized Senator Richard Gordon’s“undemocratic” remark that he will continue the Senate inquiry “until kingdom come.”
He accused the senator of using the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, the panel probing the controversial purchase which Gordon chairs, to target the administration and get “free media exposure.”
He said the conduct of the probe is already an “abuse of discretion” which is not acceptable in a “democracy.”
Duterte said he wants the Cabinet officials to focus on the pandemic response, instead of being summoned every now and then to attend the Senate inquiry.
“I want Cabinet members to focus on COVID-19. It is a pandemic and it has spread throughout the country. Malaki pa ang trabaho natin,” he said.
Duterte earlier instructed Cabinet members to secure a clearance from him before attending Senate hearings as he will determine whether or not the inquiry will be in aid of legislation.
He also told Cabinet officials to walk out from Senate hearings to “keep their dignity, especially once they are berated.
He assured them they would not get detained.
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