WATCH: Drilon questions Go's refusal to be interpellated after privilege speech
( - June 4, 2020 - 9:49pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 10:53 p.m.) — Bong Go, a first-term senator and the closest collaborator of President Rodrigo Duterte, delivered a privilege speech at an online session of Senate on Thursday where he criticized government agencies for not providing the needs of medical practitioners on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the speech, Go said he would not take questions since these may take time away from more pressing matters—a move away from the parliamentary practice of being interpellated after taking the floor.

Sen. Franklin Drilon, a veteran lawmaker and one of the most senior senators, acknowledged Go's address but noted that the refusal to accept questions is unique to the current Congress.

"Historically and by tradition, the Senate has always been known to be the arena where the policies of the national government are debated either through laws or resolutions or through privilege speeches, and that is when theories are tested," Drilon said.

While admitting that it is Go's privilege not to accept questions, Drilon asked the body if the practice is to become the "new normal" since interpellation is an effort to strengthen positions on national issues.

Senate President Tito Sotto responded that interpellation would still be the practice moving forward and that Go will address questions on another occasion.

It is the neophyte senator's prerogative, Sotto said, as any lawmaker cannot be forced to yield the floor for interpellation.

Go then defended his refusal, saying he would allow questions depending on the issue. "This issue is my privilege," Go said in mixed Filipino and English. "It might take long. We might run out of time."

He then added, addressing Drilon, "We are colleagues here, we are elected by the people and we are all senators. I am not your student and you are not my proctor." — Video edited by Erwin Cagadas

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