Duterte stands by his memo, tells senators to 'do their worst'

Published October 6, 2021, 10:42 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Don’t hold your breath, senators.

NO WAY!–President Duterte rejects on Oct. 6, 2021 the senators’ call for him to rescind his memo barring executive department workers from attending the hearings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. (Screenshot from Facebook live)

President Duterte categorically said that he would not grant their request for him to withdraw his memorandum barring workers from the executive department to take part in Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings.

“There ain’t no way that I will withdraw it. You can do your worst and I will do mine,” Duterte said, addressing the senators, during his pre-taped “Talk to the People” public briefing late Wednesday night, Oct. 6.

“Kayo ang nag-umpisa nito eh. Kayo ang nag-umpisa nitong lahat (You’re the ones who started this. You’re the ones who started all of this),” he said, referring to the Blue Ribbon panel investigation on alleged irregularities in the government’s purchase of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic supplies in 2020.

Dated Oct. 4 , the memorandum directed all officials and employees of the executive department to no longer appear before the hearings of the Blue Ribbon panel, “effective immediately”.

These officials include Cabinet secretaries, who have been mainstays in the marathon hearings led by panel chairman, Senator Richard Gordon.

“Instead, they shall focus all their time and effort on the implementation of measures to address the current State of Calamity on account of COVID-19, and in carrying out their other functions,” the memo read.

Duterte, in almost all of his public briefings since August, have repeatedly assailed the way Gordon has carried out the hearings, calling it a “witch hunt”.

The President said the latter has acted like a despot and has been disrespectful to his Cabinet officials, who have served as resource persons in the proceedings.

Duterte had earlier said he would personally screen the Senate panel’s invites to his Cabinet members before letting them appear in the ongoing inquiry. Perhaps fed up with the lawmakers, he signed the more restrictive memo instead.