“Unsettling, disturbing, distressing:” A lone wolf’s take on emergency powers

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Editors Note: Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. is the lone opposition councilor in the Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod.

He is the only councilor who voted against an ordinance granting emergency authority to Mayor Evelio Leonardia.

We print Councilor Gamboa’s statement in full.

Personal Position on the Proposed “Ordinance Granting Emergency Authority to the City Mayor in the Face of Covid 19 Pandemic”

We are “stretching” the Constitution by pushing for certain policies, advocacies and interpretations all in the name of Covid 19 pandemic in which are over-stretching also the authority and the powers of the Executive to decide for himself what constitute a violation or a crime.

This is for me “unsettling, disturbing and distressing” and absurd for the people of the City of Bacolod.  This “Emergency Authority or Power” is in fact should be the least of our priorities.  Everything is already there, all the powers, all the authorities, all recommendations and solutions in fact are already there and if we made a mistake in implementing, recognizing and prioritizing these policies then all we need to do is to “un-do or re-do” them again without the need of an Emergency Authority.

This power or authority is already imbedded in the Police Power of the LGU under the Local Government Code and in the long line of jurisprudence of implementing drastic measure is times of crisis. 

Secondly, the National IATF issued guidelines and rules and directives are already mandated authorities and powers otherwise we might just go beyond our limits. (ultra-vires)

The Sangguniang Panlungsond is a separate branch and the power it holds is sacred.  It is necessary for “check and balance” and for us to surrender and secede that power would only demean us an institution. It seems we are saying, “ si mayor lang da”.  The Sangguniang Panlungsod should be pro-active, prospective and aggressive in crafting legislations in combating this Covid 19 pandemic. 

That is what we are supposed to do and that is what we should be doing and nothing more unless in your personal and private capacity.  Legislations are also important and helpful in securing our community and city from Covid 19 local transmission.

It seems that the SP has no stake in the solution and with the emergency Authority we have nothing to do with it.

Let the SP be part of the solution by creating strategies (to start with “create an Emergency Committee”) in favour of other (medical practitioner/frontliners, It Expert who need our support.

The ordinance is double-edged, ambiguous, and cryptic.  This is a “blanket authority” given to the mayor.  There should be “strict parameters” otherwise we will all be at the mercy of the whimsical decision of the mayor, God forbids because of this power or authority granted to him.

We are leaving (sic) in extra-ordinary, unprecedented times but not at the expense of “stretching” too much our constitution such as the “Bill of Rights”, Article III Sec. 1. People should not be deprived of life, liberty and property”.  The right to work or source of livelihood  including  industry to make money etc.

The civil liberty of the individuals must be respected.  Otherwise, it is incumbent upon the government to provide “ayuda” or to support the daily subsistence of the people in terms of food, money etc. once we suppress that right.

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