Duterte execs no-show at House hearing on gentleman’s agreement

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Duterte execs no-show at House hearing on gentleman�s agreement
Former president Rodrigo Duterte
Photo / Roemari Lismonero

MANILA, Philippines — Former Cabinet members did not appear at yesterday’s initial hearing of two House committees on former president Rodrigo Duterte’s supposed “gentleman’s agreement” with China over the Ayungin Shoal.

Former executive secretary Salvador Medialdea, former national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and former defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana were all no-shows at the hearing.

Medialdea’s representative submitted a letter explaining his absence due to a “prior commitment.”

Esperon and Lorenzana offered no explanation, disappointing lawmakers.

A show-cause order has been approved by the panel after Antipolo City 2nd District Rep. Romeo Acop moved for its issuance.

The House panel on national defense and security and special committee on the West Philippine Sea conducted the hearing based on House Resolution 168 and the privilege speech of 1-Rider party-list Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez, who sought the probe.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro proposed inviting Duterte but the joint panel did not act on this.

“There is no need to invite the former president as long as they could get the information coming from the current policymakers as well as the former ones,” national defense panel chair Iloilo 5th District Rep. Raul Tupas told reporters.

“That’s why we’re trying to elicit and extract the information from the former Cabinet members so that we could put the pieces together and complete the story,” he added.

Gutierrez said it is difficult to imagine that China’s basis for “coming up with the new procedure is this supposed gentlemen’s agreement,” referring to China’s recent order for its coast guard to detain “trespassers” in the South China Sea.

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