MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered members of his Cabinet to get his consent before appearing at senate investigations, fuelling accusations from activists and some politicians of an attempt to stifle scrutiny.
Duterte gave the directive in a recorded televised address aired on Tuesday (Sep 14) after he said senators probing his government’s use of more than US$1 billion in pandemic were using the hearings to further their political ambitions.
“I will require every Cabinet member to clear with me any invitation, and if I think he will be called … to be harassed, berated … I will not allow (them to attend),” Duterte said.
This was not the first time Duterte has challenged the investigative powers of Congress. In January, he directed the head of his military detail to ignore legislative summons issued by the senate, which was probing his guards for inoculating themselves with an unauthorised COVID-19 vaccine.
“I will limit you to what you can do with the executive department,” Duterte told the senators, but added if the invitation was reasonable and “in pursuant of the truth” then he would not stand in the way.