President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday night said he will issue a memorandum to prevent Cabinet members from participating in the ongoing Senate investigation into the government’s controversial pandemic deals.
Mr. Duterte made the announcement after Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Richard J. Gordon said that the probe — which focuses on the government’s procurement of overpriced medical supplies from a firm whose track record is questionable — will continue “until kingdom come.”
“I have ordered Executive Secretary Medialdea… I will issue a memorandum so that all members of the executive department will no longer obey your summons,” the tough-talking leader said in a pre-taped Cabinet meeting.
Mr. Duterte claimed that “there is an abuse of discretion already” in the Senate.
“This is not an acceptable statement in a democracy,” he said, referring to Mr. Gordon’s statement.
The President reiterated his earlier claim that the country’s pandemic response is being hampered by the Senate investigation.
The chief executive also ordered the police and military to ignore subpoenas issued by the Senate and make no arrests related to them. “As commander-in-chief of all uniformed personnel and government, I am ordering the police and the military to stay out of this trouble,” he said. “Do not join, do not follow because we have a crisis.”
Mr. Duterte also threatened to arrest Mr. Gordon should he instruct the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms to arrest those who ignore his subpoenas. “Do not ever attempt to arrest anybody because I will arrest you,” he said. — Kyle Aristophere Atienza