By Leslie Ann Aquino
A Catholic prelate said there should be safeguards to prevent any abuse of emergency powers.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said this a day after the House of Representatives and the Senate, in a special session, voted to grant President Duterte emergency powers to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.
“I hope there are enough safeguards to prevent any abuse of emergency powers and these powers be used responsibly for the good of all,” said Pabillo, the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila.
Retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr said the emergency powers should be within a definite period of time only.
“It should be only to address the COVID-19 crisis. After that time, it should be subject to review by Congress,” he said.
“It should not also involve takeover by the government of private property but only effective direction for the purposes of combating COVID-19,” added Bacani.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), meantime, said that giving emergency powers to Duterte will only enhance the militaristic approach of the government to a public health crisis.
“The granting of emergency powers gravely misses the point of our public health crisis,” the group said.
“Our priority right now is to save lives, and we can do that by asserting people’s right to health, access to proper diagnosis, and free and accessible healthcare,” added the group.
“What we need now are rapid, surgical approach from the government to address current specific problems in dealing with the outbreak,” the group said.