‘Bayanihan’ law justified, says House leader

Published March 25, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ellson Quismorio

Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. said that the enactment of the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” is justified given the huge threat that the COVID-19 epidemic poses to the nation.

MB FILE—Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. answers questions from the media during a press conference on the National Summit on Watershed Management in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan during his time as chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). (KJ Rosales) | mb.com.ph
Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr.

“This is a time of emergency. Aantayin ba natin na maging Italy tayo (Are we going to wait to become the next ltaly)?” Pichay said Wednesday, hours after President Duterte signed the controversial measure.

Passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate during Monday’s overnight special session, the new law gives President Duterte special powers for at least the next three months.

But some colleagues of Pichay in the House have called the law unconstitutional.

“If they go to the Supreme Court [to challenge it], I’m sure ibabasura yung [petisyon nila] (I’m sure their petition will get junked,” he said.

Pichay insisted that the process used in approving the law was “legitimate.”

Referring to the pandemic, Pichay said, “This is worse than a military invasion dahil hindi mo nakikita yung kalaban [na virus]. Mamaya yung kalaban nasa asawa mo na pala (the enemy, this virus, can’t be seen by the naked eye. Who knows, the enemy may have infected your spouse).”

He said that Italian authorities probably underestimated the threat posed by the virus early on. Now Italy is among the biggest COVID-19 hotspots in the world, with over 6,000 deaths.

Pichay stressed that the Filipinos can’t afford to make the same mistake. He further enjoined his countrymen to follow the government’s directives in order to properly address the public health emergency.

“We should be united during this time of crisis,” he said.

According to him, the local situation regarding COVID-19 could have been a lot worse had President Duterte not enforced a community quarantine on Metro Manila last March 15, which was later expanded to cover the whole of Luzon for a month.

“The quarantine is a very important solution because the virus is prevented from spreading to other people,” the Lakas-CMD stalwart said.