De Lima: It’s dangerous to grant Duterte additional powers
MANILA, Philippines — Proposals to grant President Rodrigo Duterte “emergency powers” are dangerous.
Hence, was the assertion of detained administration critic Senator Leila de Lima, as she expressed doubts on the government’s capability to operate certain businesses that the government may temporarily control under such additional authority of the President.
For De Lima, there is no need for Duterte to takeover businesses during the COVID-19 crisis since the private sector has been cooperative with government agencies. She said the private sectors have been, in fact, more productive than the national government in helping address the major health problem.
Under the proposed Bayanihan Act of 2020, the country will be declared under a national emergency in order to give Duterte additional powers that include taking over private businesses when necessary.
“What we need to emphasize here is that the private sector has been nothing but cooperative in our ongoing crisis. In fact, it can be argued that they have accomplished more towards fighting COVID-19 than our government. They should be the one taking over government operations and not the other way around,” De Lima said in a statement.
“The leaders of the industry, many of whom have endured countless badgering from our President, have stepped up and introduced concrete plans of action to minimize the effect of COVID-19 on our people. There is no reason to doubt their commitment and cooperation during these times of crisis,” she added.
Earlier, the House committee of the whole granted the bill that will give Duterte emergency powers, which, aside from the possible temporary control of private businesses, would also allow the President to temporarily assume the role of Congress to realign, reprogram, and reallocate appropriations in the 2020 national budget to fund measures against COVID-19.
But De Lima said this is unconstitutional because the 1987 Constitution bars Congress from passing any law authorizing the transfer of appropriations.
Under Article VI (Legislative Department) Section 25 (5) of the Constitution, “no law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations”, except when augmenting a specific item in the General Appropriations Act by means of savings in other items, De Lima pointed out.
“Emergency powers cannot include unconstitutional powers. The fact that powers are emergency in nature does not mean that they can be crafted in violation of the Constitution. Quite the contrary, emergency powers are and will always be limited by the Constitution,” De Lima explained.
“In this case, the Constitution prohibits Congress from passing a law authorizing the transfer of appropriations. As such, Congress cannot enact Sec. 4 (16) of the proposed Bayanihan Act because it authorizes blanket transfer of appropriations by the President outside of that allowed under the Constitution […],” she added.
The whole of Luzon is under an enhanced community quarantine due to the rising number of people in the country getting infected with COVID-19. Under the strict isolation of the region, only frontline service operators like healthcare workers and other persons and businesses involved in ensuring food supply and health concerns are being allowed to go out and work.
As of 4 p.m. Monday, the Department of Health said 462 individuals in the Philippines are now infected with COVID-19, 33 of which have already died while at least 18 were able to recover from the illness.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in China’s city of Wuhan in Hubei province in late 2019.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2.
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, which surfaces have a crown-like appearance. The viruses are named for the spikes on their surfaces.
Worldwide, over 341,330 COVID-19 cases have so far been recorded while more than 14,745 have already died because of the disease. On the other hand, over 99,000 infected individuals managed to recover from the highly-contagious sickness.
The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
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