Roque Sotto

Malacañang on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte took notice of senators being “war-like” as they questioned health officials during the Senate Committee of the Whole’s inquiry on the government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan.

“He could not understand why the demeanor of the senators were apparently bellicose-like, they were war-like,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.

“And of course, there was like already an attitude as if there was corruption going on, when it was fact-finding. So, the president thought, you know, despite the separation of powers and despite the power of oversight, it does not give the senators the license to be abusive,” he added.

Should senators become pushy and abusive, Roque said Duterte had advised vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. to walk out.

“The president did not say that Secretary Galvez should not go to the Senate, he said: ‘Yeah you should. You should continue answering the questions because we have nothing to hide but certainly if they start being abusive, just walk out.”


Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Roque was making things up.

“I wonder if Sec Roque watched the hearing for nine hours. Tell me when, what time and who was war like or even was shouting to any of the resource persons. Imbento!” he said in a message to reporters.

“I painstakingly stayed for the entire duration and I do not recall any senator to be war-like. Perhaps argumentative but not warlike… “Why? Does he expect us to treat our resource persons with tender loving care?” he added.

The Senate inquiry will resume on Friday, with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Galvez expected to appear as resource persons. John Ezekiel J. Hirro