Duterte welcomes Senate challenge to bring snub order to SC
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is eager to face the Senate in the Supreme Court when it brings a legal challenge to his memorandum barring executive officials from attending the legislative inquiry on alleged irregularities in the government’s pandemic spending without his permission.
Mr. Duterte on Monday hailed the reported Senate plan to take him to court over his order, saying the Senate blue ribbon committee has “finally seen the light.”
“We welcome this move of bringing the legality of the memorandum to the Supreme Court and we would like to congratulate the members for realizing, albeit late, that it is the court, which should eventually decide on the constitutionality of the order, and we will defend it,” Mr. Duterte said during his regular public address.
The President has criticized the Senate probe into the administration’s decision to award P11.5 billion in contracts for pandemic supplies to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. even though it only had a paid up capital of P625,000.
Senators found that Pharmally obtained loans from Mr. Duterte’s Chinese friend and former economic adviser Michael Yang to pay its suppliers, and that some of the face shields it delivered were substandard and had tampered production dates.
Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday welcomed the pronouncement of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) that witnesses summoned by a Senate investigation cannot rightfully invoke the data privacy law as an excuse to evade attending the legislative body’s proceedings.
Gordon, who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee, said the statement of NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro should “clear any dispute” on whether those invited to attend Senate hearings can conveniently hide behind the law protecting data privacy rights.
Gordon was referring to a statement issued by Liboro on Thursday asserting that the law on data privacy rights cannot be invoked as an excuse to evade legal proceedings.
“We would like to reiterate that the Data Privacy Act of 2012 does not prohibit the disclosure of personal or sensitive personal information (collectively, personal data) when necessary for purposes of complying with validly issued subpoenas by government investigating bodies,” Liboro said.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, for his part, on Tuesday said the blue ribbon panel’s findings of irregularities in the government’s transactions with Pharmally should not end in just recommendations but actual criminal charges over “wrongfully spent” taxpayers’ money.
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