Duterte criticized for rants vs Senate

Senators on Friday criticized President Rodrigo R. Duterte for his lack of respect for a co-equal government branch. 

The President earlier said people should not believe congressional investigations, days after the Senate grilled Health officials at a hearing for alleged misuse of pandemic funds. 

Mr. Duterte said these inquiries lead to nowhere. 

“A little respect, Mr. President,” Senator Richard, who heads the blue ribbon committee, said at the opening of the body’s third hearing on the Health department’s expenses. 

“Maybe he forgot, or he’s misinformed,” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said in a Viber group message. “I will send him the Senate report on the committee of the whole investigation on PhilHealth,” he added. 

Mr. Sotto said most of Mr. Duterte’s appointed officers have pending cases and had been removed because of the Senate investigation. 

“There are many laws, lucrative to the people, that we have passed because of the inquiries and investigations we performed,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said in a separate statement in Filipino. 

Under the law, Congress holds investigations in aid of legislation. It can recommend the prosecution of officials and measures to prevent corruption. 

Mr. Duterte’s rants against the Senate is the latest of his attempts to defend Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III from corruption allegations. The President has said he would not fire his Health chief. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Duque said P311 million had been allotted for 5% of about 488,000 health workers for their special risk allowance. The rest would likely be given their allowance within the next two months. 

During a Senate hearing on Friday, Senator Francis Pancratius N. Pangilinan said 95% of the workers had served without receiving their allowance, but Mr. Duque said they could not release the funds without first validating the list. 

He said he had sent the second list of 17,000 beneficiaries to the Budget department, while a third batch of 80,000 workers would get their allowance once validated by the agency. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan 

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