PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte on Wednesday night said he would allow his two pandemic officials to attend Senate hearings to clear themselves of corruption allegations.
Mr. Duterte made the statement a few days after he required Cabinet officials to seek his permission first before attending legislative inquiries.
In a televised Cabinet meeting aired on Thursday, the President said he would allow Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III “to complete his story” at the Senate since he already testified before the House of Representatives.
Mr. Duterte said he will also allow vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. to participate in Senate hearings.
The tough-talking leader said his decision would “allow (Senator Richard J.) Gordon to show his stupidity.”
“But for others, in the future, I’m sorry, I will be the one who will say go to Congress to testify or to the Senate or do not go to Congress,” Mr. Duterte said. He also gave assurance of protection to his appointees. “I will not allow anybody to arrest you. That is a guarantee.”
Mr. Gordon chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which is currently conducting an investigation into controversial pandemic contracts.
At the same meeting, Mr. Duterte directed the Office of the Solicitor General to ask the Commission on Audit to look into the financial records of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which is chaired by Mr. Gordon.
Earlier this month, the President criticized Mr. Gordon for ordering PRC to halt its COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) testing services after collectibles from the state health insurer ballooned to billions. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza