'We will defend it': Duterte welcomes Blue Ribbon panel's SC challenge on controversial memo

President Duterte gave rare words of praise to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on late Monday night, Oct. 25, particularly after the panel decided to challenge before the Supreme Court (SC) the legality of his order to ban executive branch officials from attending their hearings.

President Rodrigo Duterte (Malacañang photo)

"If you remember I have a memorandum prohibiting the Cabinet members and other executive officials appearing in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings without my permission," Duterte said during the pre-taped "Talk to the People" public briefing.

"At last, the members of then Senate Blue Ribbon Committee have finally seen the light. We welcome this move of bringing the legality of the memorandum to the Supreme Court and we would like to congratulate the members for realizing--albeit late--that (it) is the court which should eventually decide on the constitutionality of the order. And we will defend it," he said.

"This is by far the most decent thing that the Committee has done and we are most eager to answer whatever questions you have regarding my not allowing officials to attend your ," Duterte said.

The Senate panel is chaired by Senator Richard Gordon. In the past three months, Gordon has led over a dozen marathon hearings "in aid of legislation" regarding the Duterte government's alleged anomalous procurement of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) supplies in 2020.

The Chief Executive has assailed the way the panel has carried out its investigation, with Gordon’s manner of questioning on Cabinet officials being a big sticking point.

Duterte went as far to say that the Blue Ribbon panel hearings are "worse than martial law".

"But we are not saying we are the best mind here; it is now (a) question of law, an issue of law and it could (go) either way. You win, you lose," he said, referring to his memorandum.

He said the SC is the only venue where his "disagreement" with the Blue Ribbon panel may be settled.

"Pagdating ng Supreme Court, ipa-subpoena lang namin yung entire proceedings na kuha ng TV (When we get to the Supreme Court, we will subpoena the entire proceedings as recorded by TV). I think government also has a record," he said.

Duterte said that that would tell the SC: "Look at the behavior . Do you think that you'd be happy appearing there, answering questions for the government?"

"You have to be courteous if you want to be treated with courtesy. You have to practice it... You can ask a question without raising your voice or adding an insult to your remark," he said, without mentioning anybody in particular.