BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – University professors, mentors are among residents here who are holding a signature campaign for a petition that expresses opposition to the granting of emergency powers to President Duterte.
The full text can be read below.
I am a resident of District _ in __ and I AM NOT IN FAVOR of granting the authorized powers under the proposed unnumbered Senate Bill entitled, Bayanihan Act of 2020.
I DO NOT AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING PROVISIONS:
The temporary takeover or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest, including but not limited to hotels, public transportation, and telecommunications entities.
The provision to regulate public and private transportation and traffic, as well as the controlled distribution and use of power, fuel, energy and water to ensure adequate supply.
The punitive nature of the emergency powers which seeks to punish any violation of the rules, regulations and directives of the national government with 2 months jail time and a fine of between P10,000 to P1 million.
Section 14 of the proposed bill which deals with the cancellation of appropriated programs, projects or activities (P/A/P) of any agency of the Executive Department and GOCCs in the FYs 2019 and 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to utilize the savings generated to augment the allocation for any item for support operations, response measures, and other such P/A/P in the FY 2020 GAA as the President may deem necessary, beneficial or desirable in order to address the COVID-19 emergency
Section 15 which states that any unutilized or unreleased balance in a special purpose fund, as of the date of declaration of State of Emergency, shall be considered to have their purpose abandoned for the duration of the State of Emergency.
Section 16 which reprograms, reallocates, and realigns any appropriation in the FY 2020 GAA for whatever purpose the President may deem necessary and desirable to fund measures to address and respond to the COVID-19 emergency, including social amelioration for affected communities, and the recovery and rehabilitation of areas where the emergency is subsiding. Subsequent requests for reprogramming, reallocation, and realignment may be done as the need arises.
Section 17 which gives the President the sole authority to allocate cash, funds, investments, including unutilized or unreleased subsidies and transfers, held by any GOCC or any national government agency for whatever purpose the President may deem necessary and desirable in order to address the COVID-19 emergency.
HOWEVER, I ENCOURAGE the Congress/Senate to prioritize the following:
(1) Purchase goods like testing kits, lease properties and construct temporary medical facilities without going through the rules on procurement, as well as require businesses to prioritize and accept contracts for materials and services in connection with the fight against COVID-19.
(2) Prioritize the safety of ALL health care workers and other frontliners by providing them with more protective grear, increase in salary, hazard pay, and provision of insurance for family members, especially in cases of health care workers and frontliners who are the primary breadwinners.
(3) Set aside funds for ALL workers, especially those in the informal sector who are the most vulnerable.
(4) Adopt measures that does not violate any human rights in the protection of people from hoarding, profiteering, manipulation of prices, product deception, cartel and monopolies.
(5) Ensure greater transparency in data-driven information on COVID-19 which include the total number of cases, mortality, recovered patients, areas affected; initiatives undertaken and yet to be implemented; best practices; and other information that may guide the citizens in their understanding of the situation.
I understand that this is an extraordinary circumstance, but I also know that it can be solved without the need for emergency powers. Other countries with the same and even those worst hit by the virus did not see the need for extended powers which we know from our history is subject to abuse. Whatever power that the executive branch needs to avert the crisis is already present. The Filipinos have shown their humanity in this time of need.
The key to solving this crisis is by acting collectively and decisively.
I trust that you will do the right thing as the representative of the people.