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Senators slam Duterte over remark on probes



Senators on Friday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte over his remarks chiding lawmakers as merely “posturing” during congressional hearings and that Filipinos should not believe in it.

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, was quick to defend the chamber from criticisms saying that panel investigations under his leadership led to the conviction of various high-ranking government officials.

He said the results of their probes helped the judiciary in filing charges against erring government officials adding that they submit recommendations and copies of their decisions with findings to the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman.

“I am sorry that the President said that the lawmakers just hold hearings for publicity and that nothing happens, no one was put to jail, and no lawsuits have been filed. These are mere speculations. His staff should take a look at the effectiveness and the meaningful job that the Blue Ribbon has undertaken,” Gordon said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, expressed a similar sentiment saying that the Ombudsman rely on the results of congressional hearing for their preliminary investigations.

“He may have forgotten or was misinformed,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

“As far as I know, the Ombudsman usually relies on Senate investigations and reports for their preliminary investigations,” he added.

Sotto also said he will send a copy of the Committee of the Whole report investigation on Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) showing that most of the appointed officers of the Chief Executive have pending cases or were removed from their posts after their probe.

During his second taped address this week, President Duterte on Thursday evening ranted against members of the Congress as he urged the public not to believe in investigations and that their probes result to nothing.

“’Please don’t believe on investigations. As you see, nothing happens. All that they were saying is they will investigate, investigate,” the Chief Executive said.

“If you’ll listen to some senators… they have a lot to say. But after one to three days after the investigation, there will be nothing. No recommendations. No one is sanctioned or jailed. They are just posturing,” he added.

Several Cabinet members of the Duterte have been under investigations this year due to issues surrounding the pandemic response of the government.

Secretary Francisco Duque is the latest of them to face the chamber after the Commission on Audit (COA) found “deficiencies” on the Department of Health (DOH)’s handling of the P67.32 billion Covid-19 response fund.

With the ongoing probe, Senator Francis Pangilinan urged the Chief Executive to listen to healthcare workers who are” frustrated and angered by the incompetence and the stench of corruption in the affairs of the DOH”.

“There will be no hearing from the Senate if we did not received complaints from frontliners, hospital operators, doctors, nurses and local government officials (LGU) who are angered and frustrated with the incompetence of the DOH,” the lawmaker said.

“Malacanang should listen in on these hearings to know how much our fellow Filipinos are suffering,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his part, reverted back the words of President Duterte to him and said that the public should not believe his statement.

Lacson said the Chief Executive should brush off his knowledge of the Constitution and remember that probes are part of their mandate as lawmakers.

“The President should read and review the constitutional doctrine on separation of powers and system of checks and balances in a republic under a presidential form of government like ours,” Lacson said in a message to reporters via Viber.

“That being said, we have our mandated duty to do just that. Filipinos should not believe him that nothing has come out of our senate inquiries,” he said.

Instead of criticizing them, the senator advised the Chief Executive to focus on addressing the shortcomings of his administration which he said was rooted on the “incompetence and corruption” of some of his officials.

“The Anti-Hazing law and the incarceration of those responsible for the hazing to death of a UST (University of Sto. Tomas) student two to three years ago is just one of many positive outcomes of such inquiries, not to mention the countless laws that we passed and which our people continue to benefit from,” he said.

“That being said, we have our mandated duty to do just that. Filipinos should not believe him that nothing has come out of our senate inquiries,” he added.