MANILA - Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon on Friday continued his verbal exchange with President Rodrigo Duterte after the latter ordered the country's police and military to "stay out" of the Senate probe into Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp, possibly starting a "Constitutional crisis."
Gordon, in a statement, said the Senate is only doing its job "to fight and right the corruption of the President's appointees and friends whose greed has deprived so many of our countrymen" of financial aid, vaccination opportunities and healthcare.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is currently conducting a probe on Pharmally, a company that supplied allegedly overpriced and substandard face masks, face shields and other medical equipment to the government.
Duterte has blasted the panel’s conduct of the hearings, calling them a “waste of time,” and also threatened to "find what’s wrong with" the lawmakers.
His recent order to the military and police and threat of issuing a memorandum prohibiting Cabinet members from attending any Senate probe is calamitous, Gordon said.
"It is catastrophic for our country that the President is willing to provoke a Constitutional crisis to protect these corrupt people who have lined their pockets with our people's money and now go around in ostentatious displays of ill-gotten wealth, driving around in multimillion-peso luxury cars and living in mansions while our people continue to suffer, starve and die," he said.
"Of this cover-up, the President has a lot to explain to the people who entrusted their futures to him and who now have nothing but hopelessness and despair."
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said earlier Friday that Duterte's recent threat was "regrettable."
“It’s also regrettable that the president should even instruct the [Philippine National Police] not to assist our [Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms] or Senate security in case they request assistance from the police in order to continue conducting our hearings,” she said on ANC’s “Headstart.”
Hontiveros said Duterte’s orders, if carried out, would deliver a serious blow to the legislative process.
The President's former economic adviser, Chinese businessman Michael Yang, has been linked to the allegedly dubious deals.
A government video earlier showed Duterte meeting Pharmally executives with Yang in attendance in Davao City in March 2017, regarding the company's possible business activities in the country.