JV Ejercito: Cabinet men, not Duterte, should defend gov't pandemic deals

Published October 5, 2021, 11:01 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

For former senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, President Duterte should not be taking the cudgels for his men amid the Senate’s ongoing investigation on the alleged irregularities in the government’s purchases for COVID-19 response.

Former Senator JV Ejercito (Cesar Tomambo/Senate PRIB)

Ejercito was asked to weigh in on the issue Tuesday, Oct. 5, as he sought to return in the Senate in the 2022 elections while advocating for the implementation of the Universal Health Care law and the improvement of health care services in the country.

Duterte said he would order members of his Cabinet not to attend legislative inquiries in the Senate, and that he would also direct law enforces and the military not to assist the upper chamber in implementing arrest orders.

“The Senate has always been known as the last bastion of democracy, the Senate is known as the fiscalizer of government. Probably ano lang ito (this is just), the President is just reacting because of the friction already, the animosity that arose because of this issue with certain senators,” said Ejercito, who also considers Duterte a friend, in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.

“I think his people should be the ones who should be shielding him — it’s not him who should be taking the buck. That’s how it is, but in this issue, it’s the President, who himself, is going to battle, which is, I think, something wrong,” the former lawmaker said.

“I think his people should be the ones defending and answering the issues, not the President,” he further said.

Ejercito chaired the Senate Committee on Health during the 17th Congress.

Asked on why he thinks Duterte has been defensive of his allies involved in the controversy, Ejercito said: “I really do not know the reason but probably it’s in his character to really fight for his allies.”

“I think, probably, it’s more of the emotions that are taking over rather than reason,” he surmised.

Ejercito called for calm amid the tension between senators and Duterte.

“I’m just hoping that cooler heads will prevail, that both branches of government should respect each other,” he said.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will conduct on Tuesday its 11th hearing on the issue.