President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night rejected calls to withdraw a memorandum barring officials and employees of the Executive Branch from attending a series of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probes into the government’s handling of Covid-19 response funds.
“They want me to withdraw the order prohibiting people from the Executive Department from testifying. There ain’t no way that I will withdraw it. You can do your worst and I will do mine,” Duterte said in a late-night public address.
He said only the Supreme Court (SC) could decide on whether the memo is “unconstitutional” as some sectors believe.
“Eventually, I think this will reach the Supreme Court. I am not saying that I am all correct. I may be wrong, but I have to protect the Executive Department from the incessant and steady dose of insults coming from the senators,” he said.
Duterte again lambasted the Senate panel for investigating the government’s purchases during the height of the pandemic last year, particularly its transactions with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
He said he wanted to go to the high court to show footage of how “badly” the lawmakers behaved during hearings.
“That’s why I want them to go to the Supreme Court. I want to show footage of their behavior… I want it recorded in history what’s going on in the Senate and how they behave badly,” he said partly in Filipino.
Duterte said senators seemed to have forgotten their purpose of investigating “in aid of legislation.”
“Just because you are clothed with the authority, you have does not include berating people, shouting at people, forgetting the civility that has to be observed by everybody in and out of investigations,” he added in Filipino.He also insisted that the Senate panel was “derailing” government from focusing their time and effort on the implementation of measures to address the Covid-19 pandemic.