MANILA (UPDATE) —President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is not blocking the ongoing Senate investigation on the government's allegedly anomalous deals with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals, but reiterated that he will not allow members of his Cabinet to attend such probe as resource persons.
Duterte said his Cabinet members do not have the time to participate in the probe as they continue to find ways to end the pandemic crisis.
"I have issued a memorandum. This memorandum because we cannot allow blatant disrespect of resource persons at the ongoing hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee," he said.
"(Senator Richard) Gordon, you are not God, and you cannot play God. No. You cannot continue this hearing 'til kingdom come. You are not a senator forever. The time for reckoning will come. You and the Senate cannot compromise the Senate's COVID-19 response by getting agency leaders tied up for so long at your beck and call," Duterte added, blasting Gordon anew.
Duterte said the Senate can do whatever it wants with Pharmally, but they should leave his Cabinet secretaries out of it.
"Again, if you think you have enough evidence against Pharmally to support your allegations, go ahead and file cases against them at the proper courts. The Senate is not a criminal court. Stop using it simply as a witch hunt," he said.
"'Yung Pharmally, I said, gusutin ninyo nang husto. Tear it, whatever you want to do with that company. 'Wag mo lang isali ang mga tao ko," Duterte added.
(That Pharmally, I said, crush it. Tear it, whatever you want to do with that company. But do not get my men involved.)
Duterte last week ordered the country's police and military to "stay out" of the Senate probe into Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp.
Duterte made the directive seeing as the Senate sergeant-at-arms could be ordered to arrest persons who do not show up at the Senate hearing.
Duterte and Gordon have been trading barbs since the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee launched an investigation into Pharmally's transactions with government, Gordon said he does not know why Duterte still defends former economic adviser Michael Yang and former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, a fraternity brother.
Duterte has denied allegations of corruption, even saying he doesn't care what happens to Pharmally.