By Jeffrey Damicog
A lawyers’ organization has voiced their opposition toward granting emergency powers to President Duterte to better deal with the threat of COVID-19.
“The grant of emergency powers, as proposed by the Senate and House bills, may not be the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic at this time,” read the position paper of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
The position paper is signed by FLAG national chairperson Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno and Metro Manila regional coordinator and former Supreme Court (SC) spokesperson Theodore Te.
“Notice should be taken that other countries have not resorted to passage of extraordinary measures to combat the pandemic, choosing instead to rely on evidence-based strategies and scientific solutions,” FLAG pointed out.
The group observed that the emergency powers sought under Senate Bill No. 1413 and House Bill No. 6616 are “either superfluous and unnecessary, as they are already vested in the Executive Branch by existing laws” and would only result in “an undue delegation of legislative powers and a violation of the separation of powers.”
“The proposed bills seek to confer powers that are already conferred by existing laws and fail to set forth a national policy, as required by the Constitution,” FLAG stated.
FLAG said Republic Act (RA) No. 11332, the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, already provides “a definition of public health emergency, a response to such, and specific objectives, powers, and penalties.”
“These powers are already extraordinary as they contemplate precisely an emergency, i.e., a public health emergency,” the group said about RA 11332.