Duterte Cabinet

Despite Duterte’s threats, Roque says Cabinet will still attend Senate probes

Loreben Tuquero
Despite Duterte’s threats, Roque says Cabinet will still attend Senate probes

NOTHING TO HIDE? Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque says Cabinet officials will still go to Senate hearings despite the President's inclination to bar them from doing so.

Screenshot from RTVM

'While the Cabinet officials appreciate the concern of the President, eh sila naman po, for purposes of transparency, pupunta pa rin po sa Senado dahil wala naman pong tinatago,' says Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

After the President threatened to restrict Cabinet officials’ appearances in the Senate’s ongoing probe into alleged corruption in the government’s pandemic response, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the officials will continue to attend the hearings nonetheless.

During a press briefing on Monday, October 4, Roque was asked if President Rodrigo Duterte would still issue an order barring executive officials from attending the Senate inquiry.

Roque responded that he had not heard of any updates. However, he said that Health Secretary Francisco Duque “does not mind going to Congress” because he has nothing to hide.

“While the Cabinet officials appreciate the concern of the President, eh sila naman po, for purposes of transparency, pupunta pa rin po sa Senado dahil wala naman pong tinatago (for the purposes of transparency, they will still go to the Senate because they have nothing to hide),” Roque added. 

Duterte initially said he would require Cabinet members to secure clearance before appearing in the Senate hearings.

He continued to rail against the hearings and Senate blue ribbon committee chair Senator Richard Gordon, even comparing the Senate probe to something “more than martial law.”

Then, in his September 30 address, the President ordered Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to craft a document ordering executive officials to stop obeying the committee’s summons. He also ordered the police and military to “stay out of this trouble.”

Gordon and several alumni of the University of the Philippines College of Law slammed Duterte’s order to block Cabinet officials and witnesses from appearing in the Senate’s ongoing probe as it provokes a “constitutional crisis.”

Iyong constitutional crisis, ang punto nga ni Presidente after 21 hearings, ano pa ba ang gusto ninyo? After 21 hearings, malinaw na kung ipagpapatuloy yan, pulitika na po ang dahilan – not in aid of legislation, in aid of elections,” Roque said. 

(On the constitutional crisis comment, the President’s point is that after 21 hearings, what else do you want to know? After 21 hearings, it is clear that if you were to continue it, it would be because of politics – not in aid of legislation, but in aid of elections.)

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It was during a Senate hearing when former employee Krizle Mago admitted that she believed they “swindled the government.” She later recanted this statement at the House of Representatives. (READ: Pharmally still changed expiration dates despite Mago retracting) – Rappler.com

Loreben Tuquero

Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.