'Filipinos will judge', Sotto says on Duterte's threat to bar officials in Senate hearings

Senate President Vicente Sotto III has posted a cryptic tweet apparently addressing President Duterte's plan to screen invitations for Cabinet officials in the upper chamber's hearings.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his regular public address on September 13, 2021. (Malacañang)

"There are two modes of executive response to congressional investigations - Block or Unblock. In 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal deported American Harry Stonehill when his "Blue Book" became too hot to handle; while President Noynoy just allowed Napoles to testify," Sotto posted on Twitter Wednesday, September 15.

"We'll know soon enough the current style," he said.

In a separate message to reporters, he added: "And the Filipino people will judge"

Following the Senate Blue Ribbon's marathon hearings on the Department of Health's (DOH) purchases of pandemic-related supplies thru the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (DBM-PS), Duterte has declared that members of his Cabinet would have to seek his permission before attending any Senate inquiries.

Duterte has criticized senators for digging up anomalies in the government's procurements, particularly the alleged preference given to a newly-registered foreign firm which was found to have links with former presidential adviser Michael Yang.

Sotto said it is not anymore the Senate's problem if the President would bar the attendance of officials in hearings for important pieces of legislation.

"That will not be our problem if our legislation will not be suitable to what the executive department’s perspective is," Sotto told the Manila Bulletin in a text message on Tuesday, September 14.

He also said that the Senate will remain independent and will continue with its oversight function on the government's use of public funds.