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Duterte vs. the Senate

"What are our leaders up to?"

 

It seems to me strange that President Duterte started lambasting the Senate and accused it of posturing when senators, particularly, Senate Blue-Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Dick Gordon, started looking into agencies, especially Department of Health and Health Secretary Francisco Duque. The Commission on Audit had found irregularities in billions of pesos of transactions. 

By taking on the Senate, which the 1987 Constitution authorizes to conduct inquiries “in aid of legislation, Duterte appears unaware of the powers of the Senate. The Senate can subpoena government officials, including members of the Cabinet, and even hold them in contempt if found lying and detained. These are all part and parcel of the checks and balances in our democratic system of government in cases of graft and corruption by the executive branch.

In other words, Duterte has bitten more than he can chew. Obviously, Duterte has not read the “Art of War” by Sun Tzu which prescribes that when you go to war, you must know your enemy, his strengths and weaknesses, and why you have to win in the end. 

Santa Banana, while Duterte can insult the senators by calling them fat, or criticizing their hairdos, the Senate can go on making these inquiries “in aid of legislation.” Yes, the President has supreme power, my gulay, like declaring Martial Law and creating a revolutionary government, but there must be a reason—invasion, rebellion or when public safety demands it. In the absence of these prerequisites, all a president can do is to “protect and defend the Constitution,” which he swore he would when he took his oath of office.

When Duterte said that he would prohibit members of his Cabinet from attending Senate inquiries—a move that could create a stalemate—the President can only be on the losing end. The Supreme Court, which decides on constitutional issues, will surely rebuke him. If Duterte continues acting this way, his critics and the opposition will go to town. We are nearing an election, after all. 

Santa Banana, the tyrannical and despotic actions of Duterte could do harm and prejudice the run of his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio!

The anomaly connecting Duterte’s former economic adviser, two Davao City lawyers, Senator Bong Go and Duterte himself may well be Duterte’s waterloo. For a Davao City company getting a COVID-19 pandemic contract in the amount of P8.7 billion to supply the government with masks, face shields and PPE, even if it only has an authorized capital of P625,000 and was authorized by the Securities and Exchange Commission to operate only in 2019, boggles the mind, my gulay! 

How lucky can the friends of Duterte get? Worse, it has been found that those behind Pharmally Corporation are wanted in Taiwan for fraud. And a certain Michael Yang and company got that P8.7 bonanza.

Yang, the two lawyers and Bong Go cannot ignore this even if the President does. The Senate Committee chaired by Senator Manny Pacquiao is just too happy to investigate Go.

To defend Malacañang, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that there was no anomaly since the masks, face shields and PPE were all delivered. That is just laughable. I know that a press secretary or a spokesman must lie for his boss, but the defense of Roque that there was nothing wrong with the Pharmally Corporation only makes Roque a troll.

Considering everything, as proposed by Minority Leader Frank Drilon, there is a need for “hold order” for all those Chinese-sounding names. This is so that the Senate can have a full-blown inquiry. Let the axe fall where it may, Santa Banana!

If you think you have seen everything in the abuse of the people’s money by government agencies, well here’s another. Ambulances bought by the Department of Health (DOH) were overpriced by P1 million per unit such that the DOH could have procured two additional units for every five that it purchased, according to Senator Ping Lacson. 

Lacson said that under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the DOH, ambulances with complete medical equipment were acquired at P2.5 million each. Can Health Secretary Francisco Duque III explain this anomaly? And will President Duterte defend him again? At the end will Duque finally quit as he promised to do after he should explain what happened to DOH’s funds deficiencies as he promised?

In a statement, Senate President Tito Sotto said he wanted to talk personally to the President regarding the Senate probes in an attempt to iron out differences. What for? Duterte knows full well that it is the mandate of the Senate to conduct probes “in aid of legislation” when anomalies like graft and corruption occur. My gulay, they are all part and parcel of checks and balances in our system of government and not “posturing” as Duterte claimed in his rant against the Senate probes especially when it involves his friends and those close to him.

I think Duterte has crossed the Rubicon.

* * *

I don’t know what games our national leaders are playing. Now comes Senator Bong Go offering himself to Davao City Mayor Sara, the presidential daughter to be her vice presidential candidate when Sara runs for president. This is actually the third offer of politicians to run as Sara’s vice presidential candidate—or is it the fourth? The first was former defense secretary Gibo Teodoro, then came Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.

In the same breath, Go said that Duterte will run for Vice President without a presidential candidate. If that’s the case, Bong Go will then be running against his former boss. Santa Banana, will that happen? In an earlier column I asked what game is Duterte playing, and for whom? Certainly, not to help Sara at the rate he is going, making more enemies.

This I have to see, Go against his former boss, Duterte, for vice president. That is, if Sara makes that big mistake of having Bong Go as her vice presidential candidate. My gulay, having a presidential and vice presidential candidate from the same place? That is an insult to all Filipino people. Is the country so lacking in good leaders?

I have been told by my sources that Sara has already made up her mind to have Senator Bongbong Marcos as her running mate. Wanna bet?

Topics: Emil Jurado , President Rodrigo Duterte , Senate , Senator Dick Gordon , Department of Health , Health Secretary Francisco Duque
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