Oct 11, 2021 @ 12:33

OSG defends Duterte order banning Cabinet members from attending Senate hearing

The Office of the Solicitor General on Monday defended the order of President Duterte prohibiting Cabinet members from attending the Senate blue ribbon committee’s investigation into the highly-anomalous government pandemic procurements.

In a statement, the OSG stressed the Senate hearings are not in aid of legislation, citing the Senate v. Ermita and Neri v. Senate as legal basis.

“For one, there is no reference to a clear and specific piece of legislation that the investigation seeks to aid. For another, the questions propounded during the hearings do not appear to be relative to and in furtherance of any piece of legislation,” the OSG said.

The OSG added that Mr. Duterte, in issuing the order, was just preventing the Senate from intruding into matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the courts or the prosecuting agencies of the Executive Department.

” Consistent with Ermita (case), and for being an inquiry pursuant to the Senate’s oversight function, the President may validly refuse the Senate’s invitation for his Cabinet members to attend these hearings,” it continued.

The OSG issued the statement in response to former Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio’s newspaper column entitled” Existentialist Threat to the Senate. ”

In his column, Carpio called as brazenly unconstitutional the memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, which prohibited Cabinet members from attending the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings.

Caprio warned the Senate that it is now faced with an existentialist threat that would prevent it from discharging its basic function of enacting laws.

The powerful Senate committee has been conducting hearings on alleged irregularities surrounding COVID-19 supplies such as PPEs, face shields, and face masks.

Over the course of the probe, Michael Yang has been revealed as the alleged financier and guarantor of the controversial Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

Despite the alleged anomalies, President Duterte continues to absolve Yang – an old friend and his former economic adviser – from any wrongdoing.

Pharmally was awarded over P8 billion worth of COVID-19 contracts in 2020 even if the small firm lacked the track record and credibility to engage in big ticket government procurement. In 2021, it got contracts worth P2.3 billion.

Also, Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. officer Krizle Grace Mago Mago revealed the tampering of expiration dates of face shields delivered to the Department of Health.

Mago also believed that the company may have been swindling the government following the tampered certificates.

But Mago recently recanted her statement before the Senate that the firm had swindled the government.

Appearing before the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, Mago said she was under pressure when she made the statement in the Senate.#

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