THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has joined calls for President Duterte to withdraw his memorandum barring officials of the executive branch from attending the ongoing Senate inquiry into the deal entered into by the government and Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation for the purchase of medical supplies for the pandemic.

In a two-page statement signed by its officials led by its national president and chairman of the board of governors Burt Estrada, the IBP also called on lawmakers and officials of the executive branch to unite and cooperate with one another in resolving the lingering problem of corruption in the country. 

The IBP stressed the importance of cooperation between the two branches of government , saying that the corruption problem has deprived Filipinos of an effective healthcare system that could have saved lives and provided better financial assistance to households and businesses in distress during this pandemic.

“It is imperative for our government to fight corruption, wherever it may be, and to assist, rather than obstruct, any investigation that seeks to identify the root of corruption, wherever it may be, and to assist, rather than obstruct, any investigation that seeks to identify the root of corruption and the perpetrators behind them,” the IBP said 

“We, thus, urge the President to reconsider his decision to bar his Cabinet from attending the Senate investigation on the alleged irregularities in the Department of Health (DOH) spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic program. It is only by granting our Congress free access to information that we can empower them to formulate policies that fully reflect the will of our people,” the IBP said.

The IBP stressed that the Supreme Court (SC) has previously ruled that while the executive branch is a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot hinder the power of Congress to legislate by refusing to comply with its demands for information. 

 “A transparent government is one of the hallmarks of a truly republican state. The only way to succeed is for all branches of government to work together in combating corruption and abuse.”

Earlier, the Philippine Bar Association (PBA) has also made the same appeal, saying that Duterte’s orders barring his Cabinet members from appearing before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and for the police and military to ignore the warrants of arrest that the Senate might issue in response are unconstitutional.

The group said the two directives “upsets the systems of checks and balances and transgresses the doctrine of separation of powers” among the three co-equal branches of the government.





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