Duterte’s order for Cabinet to snub Senate probe violates the Constitution – PBA
MANILA, Philippines—The country’s oldest voluntary national organization of lawyers has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to recall his twin directives—banning Cabinet members from attending Senate inquiries and for the police and military to ignore warrants of arrest issued by the Senate— for violating the 1987 Constitution.
In a statement Tuesday, the Philippine Bar Association (PBA) said prohibiting Cabinet members from attending legislative hearings “upsets our system of checks and balances and transgresses the doctrine of separation of powers among the three branches of government under the Constitution.”
Duterte’s other order for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to disregard warrants issued by the Senate is an “undue impairment of Legislative prerogative and violates the doctrine of separation of powers.”
In place of upholding a high level of professionalism within the military and police, Duterte, according to PBA, has made them into “political pawns used as shields against what is perceived as political attacks.”
“The directive is a disservice to the principle of civilian supremacy over the military. We should be mindful that an unlawful order invites disobedience and challenge,” the group said.
“We appeal for President Duterte, a brother in the legal profession, to immediately recall his twin directives that in our view constitute [a] clear violation of our Constitution,” the PBA said.
Duterte has already signed a memorandum ordering Cabinet members to ignore the Pharmally investigation.
The powerful Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has been conducting hearings on the alleged irregularities surrounding the purchase of COVID-19 supplies.
Throughout the investigation, the Senate discovered that Pharmally was awarded over P8 billion worth of contract in 2020, even if it has no financial capacity. The corporation has resorted to borrowing from former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang and stands as a guarantor of the controversial corporation.
Still, Duterte cleared Yang and threw various accusations against Senator Richard Gordon, such as holding a position at the Philippine Red Cross while sitting as a senator at the same time, even if the Supreme Court ruled on the matter.
During a Senate hearing, Pharmally officer Krizle Mago admitted that the company has sold tampered medical grade face shields to the government. She disappeared and reappeared at the House of Representatives, recanting her testimony.
The PBA said Duterte’s orders are “detrimental to our people exacting public accountability.”
“The ongoing investigation focuses on alleged anomalies in the use of huge amounts of public funds during a pandemic that has cost countless Filipino lives, makes the quest of public accountability of vital importance,” it said.
The organization said they agree with Duterte that there should not be a “whiff of corruption” in government, “particularly in the use of scarce resources to address our people’s pressing needs in these most challenging times. Let the ax fall where it may.”
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