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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered members of his cabinet to be required to obtain his consent to appear at Senate inquiries, with some critics calling the move an attempt to avoid scrutiny.

Duterte issued the orders in a recorded televised address on Tuesday, saying: “I will ask each member of the cabinet to erase any invitation with me, and if I think he will be called …

The fiery leader went on to point out to senators that “I’ll limit you to what you can do with the executive department. “ Only if Duterte judged the appearance in court “By virtue of the truth” would he give his seal of approval, he said.

The order comes after Duterte slammed senators for investigating his government’s spending of more than $ 1 billion in pandemic Covid funds, the Philippines auditor reporting “Deficiencies” in operations. Health Secretary Francisco Duque vowed in August that no money was “Fly” Where “Entered into corruption”.

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Duterte has also previously denied claims that medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment and face masks, are too expensive. Opposition officials questioned the cabinet’s decision to strike deals with a government-linked company. The Philippine president has asked the Senate not to investigate the programs currently in place, saying “The relentless penchant for investigating government offices” could “derail” such schemes.

Government critic Renato Reyes warned the country could move “Towards a constitutional crisis” so that Duterte can “Cover the truth and corruption”.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Southeast Asian nation has recorded more than 2 million cases of Covid and more than 35,500 deaths from the disease.

Duterte has been in office since 2016 and officially accepted his candidacy for vice president in 2022 last week, in what opponents called Duterte’s attempt to maintain a tight grip on power.

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