Senate heeds Duterte decision; Cabinet men who snub hearings will not be arrested

Senate President Vicente Sotto III maintained on Friday, Oct. 1, that the upper chamber still respects its co-equal executive department even if President Duterte would bar officials from attending their legislative inquiries.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III (Office of Sen. Sotto/

Sotto said that Cabinet members will not be ordered arrested by the Senate should Duterte issue the directive barring their presence in hearings.

"If ever they are ordered, as alter egos of the President, Cabinet members will not be ordered arrested," Sotto said in a text message to the Manila Bulletin when asked for comment on the President's latest pronouncement.

"Respect and prudence towards a co-equal part of our government is still alive and well on the part of the Senate," he added.

Further, Sotto noted that under the Constitution, the Senate can only request the presence of resource persons in its inquiries in aid of legislation.

"So it is clear that it is not obligatory," he said.

Still, Sotto said the Senate will pursue its probe on the alleged anomalies in the government's purchase of medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The upper chamber will continue to have authority over private individuals involved in their probe, he said.

Previously, Sotto said Duterte cannot prohibit his former appointees from attending the Senate hearings.

In a taped address on Thursday night, Duterte again railed at senators amid the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's ongoing investigation on the Department of Health's (DOH) disbursement of COVID-19 funds, including its purchase of pandemic-related supplied through the Department of Budget and

Management's Procurement Service (DBM-PS).

He said will issue a memorandum directing his Cabinet members to ignore the Senate's summons.