Cabinet members invited to attend Senate inquiries must first secure clearances from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte before they could attend such hearings.
During his regular Talk to the People, President Duterte said that he is not questioning the authority of the Senate to investigate anomalies but he noted that many resource persons waited for long hours for their turn to be questioned.
For instance, the President said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III missed his duties at the health department because he spent several hours attending the inquiry.
“This time I will require every Cabinet member to clear with me any invitation. And if I think that he will be called for walang ano silbi except to harass, to be berated in front of the Republic, eh hintuin ko na ‘yan at pagbawalan ko na,” President Duterte said during his public address aired Tuesday morning.
“Now, may option kayo: you can cite the person in contempt — pero ako na ang magsabi na ako ang may utos na hindi mag-attend. So that is… Well, I think I can do it as President really if there is an abuse of authority there or exceeding the authority of the reasonable time that Congress conducts a hearing.”
His aim is to limit what the legislators can do over the Executive department, the chief executive said.
The President’s remarks came as the Senate continues its investigation of the purchase of allegedly overpriced medical supplies as the country grappled to contain the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
At the same time, he also pointed out that the Executive department just used the authority given to it by lawmakers under the Bayanihan 1 and it is up to the senators to decide on the scope of their inquiry.
“You can crumple ang Pharmally, wala kaming pakialam diyan. Basta ‘yang pag-avail namin — ang pakialam namin nag-order kami, dumating, tama ‘yung nag-order, tapos ang presyo negotiated,” he said. PND