Some senators opposed President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on the Congress’ investigation into the unregistered COVID-19 vaccine in some Presidential Security Group (PSG) personnel.
In a televised briefing on Monday night, Duterte warned Congress not to force PSG personnel to attend a hearing on the controversial COVID-19 vaccines that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, the Palace should not interfere in the work of Congress regarding hearings and summonses.
“Ibabalik natin sa Malacañang ‘yung issue ng panghihimasok. Hindi rin dapat manghimasok ‘yung Malacañang sa tungkulin ng Senado o Kongreso na kung kami’y mayroong pagdinig ay uubra naman kaming magpatawag ng resource persons,” the senator said in a radio interview on Tuesday.
“Pag tinawag naman nating resource persons ‘di ibig sabihin mga suspek ‘yun eh. Gusto lang natin maliwanagan at saka in aid of legislation ‘yung pagdinig na isasagawa,” he added.
Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that the Committee of the Whole will not summon PSG to attend the hearing on the government’s vaccination plan regarding COVID-19.
Although, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon suggested that the PSG should explain where they got the vaccine which was considered illegal and smuggled into the country.
Lacson: Malacañang should not interfere with functions of Senate or Congress
But Duterte warned, there will be chaos when lawmakers force PSG to attend the Senate hearing.
“That’s unfortunate because I think he’s wrong. The President has got to respect the separation of powers clause,” said Sen. Richard Gordon in a separate interview.
“I stand by the independence of Congress… No one can overwhelm the other and put it into submission in the same manner that we can’t bully the executive and threaten them with investigations,” he added.
According to Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a member of the opposition, Duterte’s threat is premature and out of place.
The Senate is well within our rights, lalo na sa ganyang hearing ng Committee on the Whole, to invite resource persons to shed light on the issues that we will be inquiring into or investigating,” she said.
“Mayroon din kaming sariling rules tungkol sa pagsa-cite in contempt kung kinakailangan vis-a-vis resource persons who do not honor the senate’s invitation, or do not answer questions of members of the Senate in a forthright manner,” she added.