Ifugao lawmaker rails vs Duterte warning

BAGUIO City Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. raised his objection against incoming President Rodrigo Duterte's command to lawmakers not to stand in the way of his anti-crime campaign by conducting investigations.

“I take offense with the president-elect’s warning against lawmakers who wish to conduct investigations in aid of legislation on his anti-crime campaign,” Baguilat said.

Baguilat was reacting to Duterte’s statement given in a thanksgiving party last Wednesday.

"Don't investigate me. The road will end with me. The buck stops here. We are going to have a fight," Duterte was quoted as saying.

Baguilat believes Duterte's warning threatens the country's democratic system.

"Does he wish to entrench an iron rule by dictating what Congress should do, throwing aside the independence of the branches of government?" Baguilat said.

"The separation of powers of the branches of government is essential in any democracy, even in a Federalist system which president-elect Duterte is reportedly advocating. Congressional investigations in aid of legislation are not conducted merely to find fault but to offer suggestions on how to improve the executive agenda, and through these hearings, officials can lobby Congress for budget and appropriate legislation," Baguilat said.

Baguilat recalled how even Duterte’s running mate, Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, conducted investigations on Vice President Jejomar Binay’s public spending as Mayor of Makati. Those investigations led to cases before the Ombudsman against Binay, and several proposed laws on public bidding.

"In government, there is no monopoly of good ideas or of commitment to the people’s welfare. Lawmakers will not be obstructionist or demagogues in their critique, and I for one sincerely wish to offer constructive suggestions through these hearings," Baguilat said.

Baguilat cited the recent drug-related deaths at the Close up Forever Summer concert last month as an opportunity for the executive and legislative branches to strengthen the campaign against illegal drugs.

"Some criminals have found loopholes in current laws, and it is important for the executive and legislative branches to tighten the net against these outlaws," Baguilat said.

"I support a strong anti-crime drive to fortify the rule of law in the Philippines. That will make the country a better place for its citizens as well as foreign investors. But for the protection of those same law-abiding citizens and foreigners, any campaign against crime must respect human rights and uphold the Constitution. The check against executive overstepping offered by Congressional investigations is one way of ensuring that," Baguilat said. (Aiza Liza Namingit)

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