Nine members of the House of Representatives voted against the bill that will give President Rodrigo Duterte special powers to address the COVID-19 crisis in the country.
The lawmakers who opposed it explained that the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020,” might give President Rodrigo Duterte too much power that could be used to corrupt the money of the people.
- Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas
- Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago
- Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate
- Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Eufemia Cullamat
- Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite
- ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro
- Albay 1st district Rep. Edcel Lagman
- MAGDALO party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III
- Camarines Sur 3rd district Rep. Gabriel Bordado
According to Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, he voted against it because the house version gave President Duterte a permission to “reprogram, reallocate, and realign from savings on other items of appropriations in the Fiscal Year 2020 GAA in the Executive Department, as may be necessary and beneficial to fund measures to address and respond to the COVID-19 emergency.”
“Ang masyadong malawak at hindi malinaw na kapangyarihan ay lagi’t laging bulnerable sa pagsasamantala, kahit sa panahon man ng krisis at pandemiko,” Zarate said.
Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago expressed the same thoughts with Zarate.
Addressing this concern, the bills passed in the Senate and the House limited the President’s power to realign funds to “savings” within the Executive Department.
Brosas said that the bill may give a big pork barrel to the office of the President and she also mentioned that Duterte doesn’t have clear plan on how the solve the crisis.
“Ngayon, tila naghuhugas-kamay ang gobyerno sa maling prayoridad sa badyet sa pamamagitan ng pagsesentro ng bilyun-bilyong pondo sa kamay ng Pangulo. Pero sa halip na luminis, posibleng maglangis pa ang kamay ng Pangulo dahil papalakihin ang pork barrel sa tabing ng COVID-19 response,” she said.
Elago explained her no vote, saying that she cannot trust the Duterte government from having extra powers.
“We cannot entrust this regime with overly broad and vague emergency powers that are prone to more abuse and misuse. What the people need now are emergency actions, not emergency powers,” she said.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Eufemia Cullamat also thinks that Duterte may abuse his powers.
“Sa kalagitnaan ng krisis pangkalusugan, hindi solusyon ang paghingi ng dagdag na kapangyarihan upang tugunan ang COVID-19,” she said.
“Serbisyong medikal, hindi aksyong militar. Check-up, hindi check point. Ayudang sosyo-ekonomiko, ngayon na,” she added.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said that he expressed his opposition against it because the President didn’t present any plan on how they’re going to handle the crisis to use the budget intended to address COVID-19.
“Ano ang mga detalyeng magbibigay na matibay na dahilan sa hinihingi ng Pangulo na pagpapalawak ng kanyang kapangyarihan. Nakakatakot na bigyan ng napakalaking kapangyarihan ang Pangulo na di malinaw kung paano ito gagamitin,” he said.
ACT Teachers, party-list Rep. France Castro mentioned possible “corruption, human rights violations, and political oppression and persecution of the government critics” on her no vote explanation.
Albay 1st district Rep. Edcel Lagman and MAGDALO party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III insisted that giving special powers to the President is pointless.
“The grant of additional emergency powers to the President to combat COVID-19 is unnecessary because he has express and inherent powers as Chief Executive which he has been discharging nationwide to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus,” Lagman said.
“By approving this bill, we, the Congress, are effectively passing all the work and conferring all the powers to the President as if making him a lone savior of the crisis we are facing now,” Cabochan stated.
284 lawmakers voted yes to House Bill (HB) No. 6616 on 3rd and final reading on March 24.