MANILA, Philippines — “There ain’t no way that I will withdraw it. You can do your worse, I will do mine,” President Rodrigo said in his taped televised briefing on Wednesday.
He was referring to his memorandum ordering Cabinet officials to stay away from Senate hearings on the alleged anomalies in supply contracts between the government and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
Duterte said he would gladly see the constitutionality of his memo challenged before the Supreme Court.
He made the remark after some senators criticized him for issuing the order, with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon saying he would want to challenge its constitutionality in the high court.
Duterte has a different reason, however, for wanting the issue to reach the Supreme Court.
“I want them to go to the Supreme Court. I want them [the justices] to see the footage of their behavior. I want it recorded in history — what’s happening in the Senate and how they behave badly,” he said, speaking partly in Filipino.
Duterte was referring to how senators were “berating and insulting” resource persons, particularly Cabinet officials, during hearings.
He also called out the way senators would summon officials and then make them sit for hours during hearings.
“I want this to reach the Supreme Court. I may not win there, but I just want the high court to see how rude the senators are,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Bar Association (PBA) and human rights group Karapatan have denounced Duterte’s order, saying it was unconstitutional and an attempt to cover up corruption.
For his part, Sen. Richard Gordon, who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee conducting the Pharmally hearings, has been taking the brunt of Duterte’s ire. In reaction, he called the order unconstitutional, citing a similar case in 2006.
The case involved then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s executive order that stopped Cabinet officials from attending a probe into an allegedly anomalous contract that her administration had entered into with a Chinese company.
Ruling on the Senate vs. Ermita case, the Supreme Court said that when the inquiry for which Congress required Cabinet officials’ appearance was in aid of legislation. So their appearance would be mandatory.
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