PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night welcomed the Senate’s move to question before the Supreme Court his order barring Cabinet members from participating in the upper chamber’s investigation into the government’s questionable pandemic deals.   

“The members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee have finally seen the light. We welcome this move of bringing the legality of the memorandum to the Supreme Court and we would like to congratulate the members for realizing, albeit late,” Mr. Duterte said in a taped Cabinet meeting.  

Only the Supreme Court can settle the dispute between the Executive branch and the Senate, he said. “We will defend it.”  

Earlier this month, Mr. Duterte signed a memorandum directing Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III and other members of the Cabinet to ignore summons of the Senate panel, which has been investigating Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. for bagging billions in contracts with the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service.   

The tough-talking leader has warned senators that he will send them to jail if they cite Cabinet members in contempt.  

Meanwhile, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Richard J. Gordon thanked National Privacy Commission (NPC) Chairman Raymund Enriquez Liboro for his earlier statement that the law on data privacy rights cannot be invoked to reject subpoenas issued by government investigating bodies and evade legal proceedings.  

“We are glad that more people, both in the public and private sectors, and on their own initiative, speak up to uphold the rule of law,” Mr. Gordon said in a press release. 

“Liboro’s initiative and insights are greatly appreciated by the Blue Ribbon Committee and, if I may speak for the whole, by the Senate,” he added.  

Executives of Pharmally and other resource persons allegedly involved in corrupt activities have refused to disclose information and documents vital to the Senate investigation. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza 

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