Duterte Bans Cabinet from Pharmally Probe

Hannah Jhanylle C. Po

Despite alleged anomalies in the government’s pandemic supplyrelated dealings with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, President Rodrigo Duterte barred cabinet officials from participating in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation, November 18.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in a budget hearing with the Department of Justice (DOJ), notified the Senate of the president’s decision to reject their appeal to review and dissolve the October 4 memorandum enacting the ban on the grounds of unconstitutionality.

“Yes, your honor, the [justice] secretary discussed this with the executive secretary a number of times, and the executive secretary said the president was standing firm on his directive to all executive officials to no longer attend the committee hearings,” replied Senate Finance Chair Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Franklin Drilon to which Drilon forewarned of future presidents possibly issuing similar orders if the memorandum is left unopposed.

Executive officials had been present at the blue ribbon inquiry hearings headed by panel chair Sen. Richard Gordon, which began in August, before Duterte began condemning the probe, declaring it a waste of time for the [executive] officials.

“You can cite in contempt, pero ako na magsabi na ako ang may utos na hindi mag-attend, I think I can do it as president, and if there is an abuse of authority there or exceeding the authority of the reasonable time that the Congress conducts a hearing, I will limit you to what you can do with the Executive Department of the government,” said Duterte, in a taped September 14 statement.

Roger Ric Amador, a fourthyear Political Science student, former vice president internal of the USA Political Science Society (A.Y. 2020-2021), and former College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) board member (A.Y. 2019-2020), regarded the move as the President protecting the executive officials from being negatively impacted from the case and as a precursor to government losses in finances and credibility.

“What would be required in this [case] is a leader that emphasizes transparency and accountability with true public service intentions for the country and setting these [principles] as standards for future leaders could steer the country to a better path,” said Amador.

The Senate initially began scrutinizing the issue after the Commission on Audit (COA) released a report outlining abnormalities in the utilization of Department of Health (DOH) pandemic response funds, including the “unsupported” transfer of Php 42 billion to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).

Published: April 25, 2022