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Senate asks tribunal to void Duterte memo to Cabinet members

THE SENATE has asked the Supreme Court to nullify President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s order barring Cabinet officials from attending its hearings.

In a petition led by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, the chamber said the executive frustrates its power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. It accused the president of gravely abusing his power.

Named respondents were Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea and Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque.

The senators also asked the tribunal to stop the Executive branch from barring officials from legislative hearings particularly a congressional probe of the Health department’s allegedly anomalous deals.

They cited jurisprudence that voided a 2005 executive order that required executive officials to get presidential consent before attending legislative inquiries.

Mr. Duterte has barred Cabinet officials from attending Senate blue ribbon committee hearings that exposed contracts that allegedly favored Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. He has said the Senate hearings were a waste of time.

The senators also asked the High Court to stop the Executive from ordering the police and National Bureau of Investigation to obstruct Senate proceedings.

Senators Ralph G. Recto, Miguel F. Zubiri, Franklin M. Drilon and Richard J. Gordon also signed the petition. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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