MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte criticized senators anew, this time for threatening the operational budget of the agencies under the executive branch of the government.
According to Duterte, senators are threatening the Cabinet secretaries with their respective agencies' budget due to their absence in the Senate investigations.
"You threaten the budget of the different agencies of the Executive because the officials refuse to attend to your hearings," Duterte said in a taped public speech aired late Monday.
"Ito 'yung pang-aabuso talaga itong masabi ko sa gobyerno, sa pagka-demokrasya. Itong separation of powers, co-equal and everything. And they threaten to paralyze government."
(This is really an abuse of democracy. This separation of powers, co-equal and everything. And they threaten to paralyze the government.)
Senators, specifically Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon, have been at the receiving end of Duterte's tirade due to the ongoing investigation on the alleged misuse of the country's pandemic funds.
Duterte has disapproved of the Senate's marathon hearings regarding pandemic deals, lamenting the way lawmakers treat resource speakers, including government officials handling the country's coronavirus response.
Because of this, the President in early October issued a memorandum prohibiting his aides from joining the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.
Duterte dared the senators to slash the budget of the agencies, and even giving the Office of the President a zero budget, noting that at the end of the day, everything would still be up for his approval.
" 'Wag kang magtakot. Gawin mo. I-zero budget mo ang Office of the President. Sige nga. Gawin mo daw. Bakit, aabot ba 'yang pera ninyo kung hindi magdaan sa akin?," he said.
(Don't just threaten them. Do it. Give the Office of the President zero budget. Go on, do it. Do you think you'll receive your funds without my approval?)
"Eh kung hindi ako mag-release? Tit for tat. Akala ninyo kayo lang ang marunong," Duterte added.
(What if I don't release the money? Tit for tat. You think you're the only ones who are smart.)
Duterte has denied the allegation of overpricing of supplies from Pharmally, and maintained that the deals were above board.