It's the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee under Senator Richard Gordon that's committing incitement to sedition, not President Duterte.
Thus, said Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo as he defended Duterte's directive of having Cabinet members seek his permission first before they can appear before the Senate hearings that the officials have been summoned to attend.
"While we agree that the Senate has the authority to conduct hearings, the mutual respect demanded from co-equal branches of government dictates that these must be done in such a way that it is free from bias and prejudice," Panelo said in a statement Wednesday, Sept. 15.
He further said that such investigations by lawmakers "must also be conducted in an efficient manner so as not to prevent the body or agency subjected to such inquiry from performing its mandate to serve the people".
"Rambling inquiries that partake of the nature of witch hunts or fishing expeditions should be refrained from, particularly those that practically prevent a body or agency of government from performing its functions," Panelo said, echoing Duterte's criticisms on the way the Gordon-chaired panel has carried out the televised inquiries on alleged irregularities in the government's purchase of medical supplies amid the raging coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
"The remarks of Senator Gordon against the President on inciting to sedition may thus actually refer to his committee. It is them who have been restraining the executive branch to do its work, including addressing the present pandemic, by compelling key officials to a hearing which has been described by many as an investigation 'in aid of election'," the chief legal counsel said.
In his latest "Talk to the People" public briefing that was aired Tuesday morning, Duterte slammed Gordon and the Blue Ribbon panel for holding marathon hearings that supposedly do nothing but waste the time of the invited resources--specifically his alter egos in the Cabinet.
As such, the President has instructed the officials to get his consent before attending the hearings.
Gordon reacted to the Palace directive by saying, "Any person who tries to induce people not to attend or not to do their duties, the legislature for example, may be guilty of inciting to sedition.’’