MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called the Senate order to detain Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation director Linconn Ong as “more than martial law”.
In his weekly talk to the nation aired Monday night (September 27), Duterte criticized the Senate’s “intimidation” tactics in its investigation on government transactions with Pharmally.
“Akala ko ba ayaw ng mga taong Pilipinas ng martial law? Tingnan mo ang ginagawa ng Senado ngayon, (I thought the Philippines does not like martial law? Look at what the Senate is doing now), it is just more than a martial law,” he said.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon has ordered Ong’s detention after citing the latter for contempt for allegedly evading questions regarding Pharmally’s P8 billion worth of transactions with the government. Ong was supposed to be transferred to the Pasay City Jail.
Duterte said the Senate panel is not really looking for answers but expecting specific replies from summoned resource persons.
“Kung ayaw ninyo ang sagot, magagalit kayo tapos you threaten (If you don’t like the answer you will get mad and threaten) you will—’We will cite you in contempt and we can detain you forever.’ Is that how a civilized Congress works? Takutan ba ito (Is this intimidation),” he said.
“Do not blame him because that is his truth. You just cannot assume altogether that he is lying. That would be a cockeyed view of what a hearing should be,” he added.
Duterte also wondered what the human rights advocates have to say regarding the issue.
“So ang Human Rights, gusto kong marinig kung ano rin ang sinasabi (I also want to know what they have to say). The Constitution really provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Is there a due process of law if you already have the preconceived answer? And if it does not dovetail your frame of mind, you send him to jail?” he asked.
The president addressed Senator Richard Gordon anew during his speech, telling him to “try to be a lawyer and not a despot.”
“You are not the king of Congress. Please do it for the sake of you, your family, and for the country,” he said. AAC