SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go said that he respects President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand not to name lawmakers who are allegedly involved in demanding kickbacks from project contractors, mentioning that the principle of separation of powers means that the President has no jurisdiction over them as they belong to a different and co-equal branch of government.
In an ambush interview after his visit to Typhoon Ulysses victims in Bagumbayan, Quezon City, Go said that President Duterte, as a lawyer, knows the limits of his powers as president.
“Separation of power. Nirerespeto ko po ‘yan at abogado po ang ating Pangulo, alam n’ya po ang kanyang trabaho,” Go said.
During his Talk to the People address on Monday evening, Duterte refused to name lawmakers who are allegedly involved in corruption, citing the ‘separation of powers’ principle as an impediment for his office to investigate corrupt members of the legislative branch.
“I have no business investigating congressmen. They belong to a separate organ of government which is co-equal to the President,” Duterte said.
President Duterte made the statement after Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chief Greco Belgica provided him with a list of lawmakers who allegedly demand commissions from contractors of government projects. The President, however, said that he will send the names to the Ombudsman for further probing.
Go emphasized that the President respects interdepartmental courtesy among the branches of the government, as well as the constitutional mandate of the Ombudsman to investigate irregularities in the government.
Go further emphasized that the anti-corruption task force created by President Duterte is tasked to probe into alleged anomalies within the executive branch in accordance with his disciplinary powers over such branch.
He added that other agencies which have investigative functions can help identify government officials who are involved in illicit dealings and activities, and that cases of irregularities found through these investigations shall be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate action.
“Ngunit kapag inimbestigahan na po ng Ombudsman ay doon po lalabas. Halimbawa, inimbestigahan ng Ombudsman ‘yung isang under po sa Executive…halimbawa Department of Public Works and Highways, pwede pong imbestigahan ng task force created by the President, headed by (Department of Justice) Secretary Menardo Guevarra,” explained Go.
“So habang nag-iimbestiga ‘yung task force, pwede n’ya pong i-tap ‘yung Ombudsman, ang Commission on Audit, ang Civil Service (Commission), ay maaari pong lalabas kung sino ‘yung mga kasabwat… Sa ngayon, ayaw ng Pangulo na pangalanan sila habang wala pang pormal na imbestigasyon,” he added.
Despite Duterte’s decision, Go assured that there will be no sacred cow in the government’s fight against corruption. He reiterated that he and the President respects the mandate and duty of the Ombudsman to prosecute these government officials to bring them to justice.
“Wala naman po tayong pinipili sa kampanya laban sa korapsyon. Trabaho po ng Ombudsman ‘yan, to file charges, to prosecute and, finally, to put them in jail,” he said. ####