Senate asks SC to void Duterte’s memo barring Cabinet execs from probe

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 11) — The Senate has filed a petition before the Supreme Court to challenge the legality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s order barring executive officials from attending the Blue Ribbon Committee hearings.

The petition cited the Senate v. Ermita case wherein the Supreme Court ruled that the Executive branch should not issue directives that would frustrate the power of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation.

The upper chamber argued that the memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea obstructs and interferes with the processes of the Legislative department.

“The Executive department’s actions defy constitutional order, and subvert the rule of law by: (a) flouting an established ruling by the honorable court; and (b) making compliance with validly issued processes and writs subject to confirmation by the executive branch,” the petition said.

It added that the memorandum deprives the people of their right to information.

The Senate on Tuesday adopted a resolution to back the petition filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III as well as Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader, Franklin Drilon, and Blue Ribbon Committee chairperson Richard Gordon.

Since the memorandum was issued, Cabinet officials snubbed the hearings into the alleged misuse of billions of pesos worth of pandemic response funds for the procurement of overpriced face masks and face shields.

The senators also pointed out that the memorandum “suffers even graver badges of unconstitutionality” because it does not qualify which officials are prohibited from attending and it selectively targets a set of hearings led by senators whom the President personally attacked.

“The Executive Department’s actions undermine the foundations of our system of writs, processes, and warrants,” the petition read. “For one, it essentially makes compliance with these commands subject to the Executive Branch’s confirmation and sows doubt as to their binding nature.”

“The Executive Department’s actions are as much a threat to the legitimacy of every governmental body that issues them, and not just to the Senate,” it added.

The Blue Ribbon Committee will resume its hearing on November 25.