A/P Manila reports that In the midst of a growing constitutional crisis, the Philippine president says he will bar Cabinet officials from testifying in a Senate investigation into alleged irregularities in major government purchases of medical equipment.
Rodrigo Duterte informed Cabinet members in a televised meeting on Thursday night that he will sign an order prohibiting them and other officials from attending the inquiry, including three secretaries dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
The president was abrasive in his remarks, accusing some senators of manipulating the televised hearings to gain political mileage in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.
Even after multiple hearings, he claimed that Senate investigator Richard Gordon had failed to present any evidence of government procurement of protective masks and face shields being corrupted, and had even berated guests like a “despot.”
There is no abuse, no autocratic ways, no making of a very irresponsible but purposeful declaration which is an affront to the constitution when you declare, “I will conduct the investigation until kingdom come,” Duterte added.
According to Duterte, if Cabinet members defy Senate summons and are detained for contempt, the police and military will be prohibited from cooperating with senators or the Senate sergeant-at-arrests. arm’s
“Anyway, I’m the supreme commander of the federal government’s uniformed forces. I’ve told the authorities, the military, and everyone else to stay out of this. Remember, we’re in a crisis already. There is no need to get involved or follow along.
Gordon’s committee has been looking into allegations of overcharging and other irregularities in procurement of masks and other medical equipment from the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., a Philippine company, made by him and other senators.
As the Duterte administration struggled to deal with coronavirus outbreaks last year, the company, registered in 2019, managed to acquire government contracts worth multi-billion pesos (multi-million dollars).