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In response to probe into DOH spending, Duterte says senators just 'showing off'

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
In response to probe into DOH spending, Duterte says senators just 'showing off'
President Rodrigo Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on August 10 , 2020.
Presidential Photo / Joey Dalumpines

MANILA, Philippines — Senators probing the government's purchase of allegedly overpriced medical supplies are only politicking, President Rodrigo Duterte said of members of a co-equal branch of government as he said the public should not vote for them in 2022.

Duterte, who has openly declared he will run for vice president, said the public should not believe members of Congress whom he said are posturing for the elections.

"Ang hinihingi ko sa taong bayan ‘yung lahat na senador — ito kung pagbigyan lang ninyo ako — ‘yung lahat ng senador tumatakbo, talunin ninyo (My appeal to the people — and I hope they will heed it — is make the senators lose)," he said in a pre-recorded speech aired Tuesday morning.

He said lawmakers only talk and "show off" at hearings.

Duterte mentioned Sen. Imee Marcos, Sen. Richard Gordon and Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

The president said Marcos had visited his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to talk about a possible political tandem. Supporters of Carpio have been persuading her to seek the presidency next year.

"Si Imee, ganito ang laro niyan, pinupuntahan niya si Mayor Duterte sa Davao, hoping na magtakbo ‘yun, siya ang maging bise (This is Imee's plan, she visited Mayor Duterte in Davao, hoping she would run and she would be her vice president)," Duterte said.

"Sabi ni Mayor Sara Duterte, hindi siya magtakbo, kaya sabi ko magtakbo ako ng vice presidente. Bakit? Walang oposisyon (Mayor Sara Duterte said she won't run so I said I would run for vice president. Why? Because there is no opposition)," he added.

Duterte predicted that members of the political opposition would suffer another defeat next year similar to what they experienced in 2019 "because they have not shown anything to the Philippines."

Marcos recently said her brother, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., would be "honored" if he becomes Carpio's running mate.

Gordon's 'Talkathon'

At the same public address, Duterte criticized the way Gordon asked questions during Senate hearings and attacked his physical appearance.

Duterte said former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, who was grilled by senators over the purchase of supposedly overpriced medical supplies, was asked leading questions and was bombarded with inquiries for as long as seven hours.

"I'm sure Gordon realizes or has realized it a very long time ago that he has that nasty practice of depriving others of asking questions. But, you know, the guy simply wants to talk and show off to the world that he is a bright boy," Duterte said.

He also said that Gordon was like a Nazi interrogator who would use people's answers against them.

"Who has he sent to jail over an anomaly in government? Gordon will just talk and talk. Watch him in the coming elections. They will give him 30 minutes, he will talk for an hour. That's how he is, talkathon," the president said.

Prosecuting people is a task for the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice. Members of Congress may hold hearings in aid of legislation or in the exercise of their oversight powers.

Duterte takes aim at Lacson

Training his guns on Lacson, Duterte asked the senator — who has declared his intention to run for president in 2022 — whether he is honest and hinted he had information on the senator.

"I will ask Panfilo Lacson, are you honest? Answer me truthfully, are you honest? If you say yes, I will respond to you during the next program. I will show something," he said.

Duterte has used previous episodes of his weekly meetings to defend his administration and hint at wrongdoing by his critics.

The president said senators do not have the ascendancy to question his prerogative to select people who would work for him. He also said critics should file case against him at the Office of the Ombudsman if they have evidence.

The president is immune from suit, a condition that Duterte raised when he indicated in July that he will run for vice president in 2022. The vice president does not enjoy the same immunity.

"I will appoint people I know and trust, just like other presidents before me," he also said in the recorded message aired Tuesday.

Duterte: Senators will create a crisis

Duterte threatened to prohibit officials from attending Senate inquiries if they are disrespected by senators. He added that officials should not allow themselves to be maligned during congressional hearings.

"You would create a crisis here... If you are like that, I will not allow any Cabinet member to go to Congress to testify. Do whatever you want to do," he said.

"If you've had enough and you stand up and you are cited in contempt and they detain you, I will find ways. I will extract you. In 24 hours, I will extract you," he also claimed.

Duterte claimed there were instances during the hearings when Health Secretary Francisco Duque III could not even complete his answer without being interrupted.

"You ask questions and you also answer. You would not even let the person answer... I’m addressing this to the people of the Philippines: All of you who have been to Congress, remember them, remember Gordon, Lacson...remember them...they were the ones who humiliated you, they were the ones who robbed you of your dignity," he added.

COMMISSION ON AUDIT

IMEE MARCOS

PANFILO LACSON

RICHARD GORDON

SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE

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