By Ben Rosario
The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives has assailed the grant of emergency powers to President Duterte as “extremely dangerous” than the killer disease, coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
In a joint statement, the six congressmen belonging to the opposition bloc chided the administration for exploiting the COVID situation to call Congress to a special session and grant the chief executive extra powers that could be considered as “virtual undeclared martial law.”
The statement was issued by Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, Eufemia Cullamat, ACT Teachers Party-List France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Party-List Rep. Sarah Elago.
The Lower House was set to approve House Bill 6616, otherwise known as the “We Heal as One Bill” during an unprecedented teleconferencing session attended by 20 representatives at the House plenary hall in Quezon City and 279 other House members on internet monitoring in their respective homes or congressional district offices.
“Malacacang should also stop denying that Duterte is asking for emergency powers because the bill says so itself in Section 3. Besides they would not have called for a special session of Congress if not to ask for such,” the Makabayan group said.
The opposition lawmakers said the bill grants Duterte “too much power over the entire government and all public funds, as well as draconian measures to impose his concept of response” to COVID-19.
“No country has passed such kind of an emergency law even if they are affected by the COVID virus too,” the group said.
A total 193 territories and countries, including the Philippines, have been affected by the killer virus. A total 343,421 person have been infected, with 14,777 succumbing to the disease.
“ This bill is a continuing reflection of Pres. Duterte’s obsession that the solution to any problem is force, bullying, and the power to set aside anyone who does not follow. While the COVID problem is serious, mainly as a result of the incompetence of Pres. Duterte, it is still an overkill,” the group declared.
The opposition lawmakers noted that the bill failed to provide for the demand of workers for P10,000 economic relief during the lockdown period.
“Secondly, even if there is a need for a law that addresses the gaps in the response to the corona funding, it should only focus on funding issues in the budget,” they said.