Ignoring Duterte ban? Palace says Cabinet execs won’t snub hearings on Pharmally

MANILA, Philippines — For transparency, Malacañang said Monday Cabinet members will still attend congressional hearings on the Pharmally fiasco, seemingly ignoring President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he would formally bar them from attending these inquiries.ADVERTISEMENT

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the assurance after various business groups and universities called on public officials to cooperate on the ongoing investigation of allegedly overpriced procurement deals by the government.

“Ang sabi po sa akin kanina ni [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque, he does not mind going to Congress dahil wala naman po siyang itinatago,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

(Secretary Duque told me that he does not mind going to Congress because he is not hiding anything.)

“So while the Cabinet officials appreciate the concern of the President, eh sila naman po, for purposes of transparency, pupunta pa rin po sa Senado dahil wala naman pong tinatago,” he added.

(While the Cabinet officials appreciate the concern of the President, they will still attend the Senate hearings for the purposes of transparency because they are not hiding anything.)

Regardless, Roque slammed the continuation of investigations on Pharmally saying it is “in aid of election” and not of legislation.

“Ang malinaw po eleksiyon na kaya lahat ng imbestigasyon kung ipagpapatuloy pa, in aid of election, hindi in aid legislation,” he said.

(What’s clear is that it’s elections already that’s why all continuing investigations are in aid of election, not in aid of legislation.)

In a taped speech last week, Duterte said he will formally bar Cabinet members from attending Senate hearings on Pharmally so they could focus on the country’s COVID-19 response.

Roque also echoed the President’s sentiments saying the hearings take much of the time from officials who are supposed to address the COVID-19 crisis.

“Imbes na nagugugol nila ‘yung panahon nila at lakas doon sa kalaban natin na COVID, nauubos ang oras sa hearings na hindi ko po alam kung ano bang nais nilang malaman,” said Roque.

(Instead of spending their time and energy on our enemy that is COVID, they lose time from hearings. I no longer know what they want to know.)

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