SENATE President Vicente "Tito" Sotto 3rd on Tuesday said it was the prerogative of President Rodrigo Duterte not to allow members of his Cabinet to attend congressional investigations on alleged anomalies in government.
He made the remark when sought for reaction on the President's pronouncement to require Cabinet officials to seek his permission first when invited to Senate probes.
However, Sotto maintained that the senators will continue their legislative duty to scrutinize government projects.
"That is the prerogative of the chief executive. It's up to him," the Senate chief said in a text message.
"However, the Senate will exercise our legislative oversight function over government projects and expenditures that we approved," Sotto stressed.
Reacting on the same issue, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said, "Kung wala silang tinatago dapat humarap. Kung tunay na walang mga anomalya hindi dapat takot humarap (If they were not hiding anything they must face [the Senate probe]. If there is really no anomaly, there is no reason to be afraid to face [the Senate probe])."
Sotto on Monday reminded resource persons that the Senate is doing its work as mandated by the Constitution and has "no intention of bullying people or specific agencies."
The Senate blue ribbon committee, headed by Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon on Monday, resumed the virtual hearing on the 2020 Commission on Audit (CoA) report on the utilization of the Department of Health's (DoH) P67 billion budget for pandemic response.
"It so happens that the Constitution says the legislature has the power of the purse. So, we are doing our committee work through the Committee on Accountability (or Blue Ribbon Committee)," Sotto said.
"We are looking how the people's money is being spent. The people have the right to know," he said.
He also said that the Senate is looking into the possibility of amending the creation of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) depending on the recommendation of the blue ribbon committee.