MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's defense of Pharmally Pharmaceuticals amid a Senate investigation on the management of COVID-19 funds should not be seen as his tolerance of corruption, an ally said Wednesday.
Sen. Francis Tolentino said Duterte's statements were "personal" but if given the chance, he would ask the chief executive to stop there and let the Senate investigation proceed.
He said the President is "used to defending people close to him, his friends" and it is his "human nature" to do so.
"His defense should not be considered as a tolerance of corruption. His defense here should not be considered as an unyielding or stubborn response to an investigation, but a measure of what friendship is. And if I will be asked for an advice, it should stop there. Let the investigation proceed," he told ANC's Headstart.
Tolentino said while Duterte's earlier statement asking Cabinet members to clear attendance to Senate inquiries with him first was also "personal," separation of power still prevails.
"If we look at separation of powers I think the respect due the Senate must be accorded, the same is true for the powers of the presidency itself must be respected...This is part of our political system," he said.
For him, the perception that administration-allied senators are avoiding the Blue Ribbon Committee's investigation should not be generalized. He said he is rather "more desirous of producing the required legislation" from the hearings, and he is looking to pursue an amendment to the Civil Service Code, a review of the powers of the Government Procurement Policy Board, and the passage of a 'Buy Filipino' policy.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, headed by Sen. Richard Gordon, is set to resume its investigation into the budget utilization of the Department of Health during the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday at 2:00 PM.