MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered Cabinet members to seek his clearance first before attending Senate inquiries.
“I will require that the Cabinet members invited to your [Senate] hearings that he will clear the invitation with me,” Duterte said in a taped public address that was aired on Tuesday.
The president issued the statement as he once again criticized the Senate for holding investigations into the government’s pandemic response for the alleged anomalous transactions and purchase of pandemic supplies.
Duterte said he is not questioning Senate’s authority to conduct investigations in aid of legislation. However, he noted that some officials invited as resource persons, especially those coming from the Executive department, have attended the hearings for hours but are not given the time to say their testimonies.
He also acknowledged the upper chamber’s power to cite a person in contempt but stressed that as the president, he can also exercise his authority over his Cabinet members.
“May option kayo to cite the person in contempt. Ako na magsabi. Ako ang may utos na hindi mag-attend,” he said.
“I think I can do it as a president really if there is an abuse of authority there or exceeding the authority of the reasonable time that the Congress conducts hearing I will limit what you can do with the Rxecutive department of the government,” he added.
He also accused lawmakers of “stretching” the hearings as part of their strategies come 2022 elections.
“Tingnan ko kung pabalik-balik na lang with no other purpose except to ramble, to stretch the hearing because that is good for election until may be the election itself. Okay man yan because you are entitled to your own strategy,” he said.
Duterte likewise said he will campaign against Senator Richard Gordon for being an “unfit” lawmaker.
Gordon is the chairman of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that is holding a probe into the government’s COVID-19 response.